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"How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob ; and thy tabernacles, O Israel," Num 
bers xxiv, 5. 

" Behold, I send an Angel before thee — beware of him, and obey his voice ; 
provoke him not. — If thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak, 
then I will be an enemy to thine enemies, and an adversary to thine adversa- 
ries," Exod. xxiii, 20-22. 

Network : 




Entered according to act of ('(ingress, in the year 1838, by 
T. Mason & G. Lane, in the clerk's office of the Southern 
District of New -York 




'From the close of the General Conference of 1792 to the close of the 
Annual Conferences of 1796. 

We have hitherto traced the progress of Methodism 
in this country, from its small beginning in 1766 to 
the close of the first General Conference in 1792. 
Though it had difficulties, both internal and external, 
to contend with, it won its way through every oppo- 
sition, maintaining the purity of its character, and 
exerting its hallowing influence on society, in the mean- 
time molding itself into a more compact form and 
firmer consistency, until,we have seen, it was organized 
in one supreme judicatory to which its destinies, under 
God, were committed. I shall now proceed to nar- 
rate, as accurately as possible, its subsequent progress, 
both in its general councils and in its various ramifi- 
cations over this extended continent. 

1793. Though the labors of the conference, de- 
tailed in the former chapter, were great, and the sub- 
jects of deliberation elicited very considerable contro- 
versy, yet the preachers generally departed to their 
respective spheres of labor with promptness and 



cheerfulness ; and the people, with the exception of 
those who were poisoned with the O'Kellyan schism, 
manifested great satisfaction at what had been done. 
It was, indeed, manifest to all impartial men that the 
members of this conference " sought not their own" 
glory, temporal aggrandizement, ease, or pleasure, but 
the glory of God and the good of mankind. 

This year there were no less than nineteen confer- 
ences held in different parts of the country, for the 
convenience of the preachers and people, and it was 
upward of eleven months from the time of the first 
to the last, — the times and places of which, not 
affording much matter of general interest, I think not 
necessary now or hereafter to specify. In these 
several conferences the following; twelve circuits were 
added : — Sivanino, in Virginia ; Haw Rive?; in North 
Carolina ; Hinkstone, in the West ; Washington, Ma- 
ryland ; Freehold, New- Jersey ; Herkimer and Seneca 
Lake, New- York ; Tolland and New-London, Con- 
necticut ; Province of Maine, Maine; Prince George, 
in Maryland; Savannah, in Georgia. 

An effort was made this year for the erection of 
district schools, in imitation of the Kingswood School, 
established by Mr. Wesley, in England ; and an ad- 
dress was drawn up by Bishop Asbury to the mem- 
bers of the Church, with a view to call their atten- 
tion to the importance of this subject. Several such 
were accordingly commenced soon after ; but whether 
for want of skill in their management, or patronage 
from the people, or more probably from both of these 
causes, they lingered for a short time, and then ceased 
to exist. These failures in an attempt to impart the 
benefits of a Christian education made an impression 


upon the mind of the good bishop and others that the 
Methodists were not called to attend to these things ; 
and hence for several years they were suffered to sleep. 
This subject has, however, more latterly awakened a 
very general interest in the Church, and the cause of 
education has been prosecuted with vigor and success, 
as will be noticed in the proper place. 

After the. adjournment of the conference, Bishop 
Asbury commenced his tour of the continent by travel- 
ing through the southern states, and thence west 
over the Alleghany Mountains into Tennessee and 
Kentucky, contending with almost all sorts of difficul- 
ties, and yet everywhere scattering the seeds of eter- 
nal life. From the west he returned and visited the 
northern and eastern states, and on arriving at the 
city of New- York, he says, after mentioning that he 
had been much afflicted in body, particularly with an 
inflammatory rheumatism in his feet, — • 

" I have found, by secret search, that I have not preach- 
ed sanctification as I should have done. If I am restored, 
this shall be my theme more pointedly than ever, God 
being my helper. I have been sick upward of four months, 
during which time I have attended to my business, and 
rode, I suppose, not less than three thousand miles." 

In this journey he had the satisfaction to behold, in 
many places, a revival of the work of God, which, 
amid the gloom occasioned by his debility, the rough- 
ness of the roads, and the coarseness of his fare, par- 
ticularly in the new countries, made him " rejoice in 
hope of the glory of God." While a foundation was 
laying for an extensive work of God in the western 
states, New-England began more fully to " stretch 


6 A HISTORif OF THE [1793. 

out her hands to God." This year there were two 
districts in New-England, one of which was under 
the charge of the Rev. Ezekiel Cooper, and the other 
the Rev. George Roberts, both of whom were able 
ministers of the New Testament ; and the Rev. Jesse 
Lee, who had opened a way for the spread of 
Methodism in this country, was stationed in the pro- 
vince of Maine, and Lynn. Through their labors, and 
those preachers who were associated together under 
their direction, several new circuits were formed in 
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and 
many societies were established. 

But this work did not go on without opposition. 
Though the civil regulations of the country did not 
allow the standing order to interpose their authority to 
prevent the Methodists from preaching, yet they were 
not allowed the full exercise of their ministry, particu- 
larly as respects uniting people in matrimony. Hence 
Mr. Roberts was prosecuted and fined for performing 
the marriage ceremony. As, however, this sort of 
persecution was becoming unpopular among the peo- 
ple, the more they were oppressed in this way, "the 
more they prospered," until finally all thos"e legal bar- 
riers were removed out of the way, and the Metho- 
dists, as well as others, are protected in all their 
rights and privileges. 

Though it will be anticipating the chronological 
order of the history a little, yet I think it will give 
the reader a more intelligible idea of the progress of 
the work in this country, to connect a few particulars 
in this place. This year the New-London rvvait 
was formed. Though as early as 1789 preaching 
commenced in this city, yet no regular class was 


formed until the year 1793, and that consisted ol 
fifty members. And it was not until 1798 that they 
succeeded in building a house of worship in New- 
London, which was dedicated to God on the 2 2d of 
July of that year. 

Warren circuit, in Rhode Island, which included 
Warren, Newport, Providence, Cranston, and several 
places in Massachusetts, appears on the minutes of 
this year ; and the first Methodist church which was 
built in Rhode Island was in the town of Warren ; 
and the first sermon was preached in it Sept. 21, 1794. 

As perfect religious freedom was secured to the 
people by the original charter granted to the state of 
Rhode Island, and of course no form of Christianity was 
established by law, the Methodists met with less op- 
position there than they did in some other portions of 

In Provincetown, on Cape Cod, which was first 
included in the minutes of 1795, there were some in- 
cidents attending the introduction of Methodism which, 
as they show the fruits of the carnal mind on the one 
hand, and the good providence of God on the other, 
may be worthy of record. It seems that a few in 
this place were brought under serious impressions, 
and began to hold meetings among themselves before 
they were visited by any preacher, and they had 
therefore no one competent to instruct and guide 
them. In this way they endeavored to strengthen 
each other's hands for some time, being much de 
spised and persecuted by those who " knew not what 
spirit they were of," until one of our preachers, who 
was on his passage from New-York to St. John's, in 
New-Brunswick, meeting with contrary winds, the 


8 A HISTORY OF THE [1793. 

vessel' in which he sailed was compelled to anchor 
in the harbor of Provincetown. On going ashore, 
the preacher soon found these young converts, and at 
their invitation gave them a sermon. After staying 
with them a few days, and preaching several times, 
he left them with directions where they might apply 
for Methodist preachers. They accordingly sent to 
Boston for help, and were soon supplied. 

In consequence of these movements, when the 
Methodist preachers first visited the place, they were 
cordially received, treated with great kindness, and 
many attended their meetings. A society was soon 
formed, and several sinners awakened and converted 
to God, and added to the society. Their number 
daily increasing, they commenced building a house of 
worship. This provoked opposition, and the " sons 
of Belial" assembled in the night, took the greater 
part of the timber, which had been brought from 
a distance, at a considerable expense, threw it 
from the brow of a hill into the valley, cut it to 
pieces and built a pen with it, — then taking a sailor's 
old hat, coat, and trowsers, stuffed them so as to 
make them resemble a man, fastened the image on the 
top of the pen, and tarred and feathered it. This 
shameful conduct, so far from intimidating the bre- 
thren, or discouraging them in their efforts to erect a 
house for the worship of God, only served to stimu- 
late them to renewed diligence ; and by the month 
of January they had their house ready for use, and 
accordingly took possession of it in the name of the 

James O'Kelly, Rice Haggard, John Robertson, 
and John Allen, were returned in the minutes this 


year as withdrawn. Eighteen were located, and one, 
James Bell, was expelled. 

Benjamin Carter and John Sproul had died, both 
in peace. 

In making the above record, we cannot but notice 
the number of locations which took place in those 
early days of the Church, and which, indeed, con- 
tinued to be numerous for many years thereafter. 
That this practice has had an unfavorable effect upon 
the interests of the Church, by depriving it of some 
of its tried and experienced ministers, must be evi- 
dent to all ; for though many of those who located 
retained their piety, and also their usefulness to some 
extent, yet it is manifest that their ministerial labors 
were very much contracted, and their usefulness pro- 
portionably circumscribed. These locations, how- 
ever, were owing, in some measure at least, to the 
scanty support which was made for men of families, 
and the great difficulty of contending, under those cir- 
cumstances, with the hardships of an itinerant life, 
particularly in the new countries. Hence the tempta- 
tions which were held out to locate that they might 
provide a livelihood for their growing families. If the 
Methodist Episcopal Church has erred in any one 
thing more than another, it has been in neglecting to 
make that provision for its ministers which they 
needed, and which the gospel authorizes them to re- 
ceive. A remedy for this evil is to be found in that 
spirit of liberality which Christianity inculcates, and 
which is essential to the existence and usefulness of 
a gospel ministry. 

The effect of the labors of this year may be seen 
in the following statement : — 

1* 2 




Numbers in the Church 


This year, 51,416 
Last year, 52,109 


Total. Preachers. 
67,643 269 

65,980 266 


693 In. 2,356 


The reader will perceive that though there was an 
increase of 1,663 in the total number, there was a 
decrease of 693 among the white members. The 
effects of the O'Kellyan secession began to be felt, par- 
ticularly in Virginia, and some parts of North Carolina. 

1794. The number of annual conferences was 
reduced this year to fourteen, as some of the preach- 
ers had complained of there being so many at such 
short distances, among other reasons, because it pre- 
vented the minutes from being printed until near the 
end of the year. This inconvenience, however, 
should have been submitted to rather than to have 
made it necessary for the preachers to assemble from 
such a vast distance, at the expense of so much time 
and money, as many of them did when, afterward, 
the number of conferences was reduced to seven. 
At these conferences the following new circuits were 
returned in the minutes : — Federal, in Maryland ; 
Carlisle, in Pennsylvania ; Leesburgh and Pendleton, 
in Virginia ; Black Swamp, in South Carolina ; New- 
Hampshire, in New-Hampshire ; Marblehead, Orange, 
and Fitchburg, in Mass.; and Vermont, in Vermont 
Oswegochee, in Upper Canada, was divided into two. 

In some of the southern states, Methodism was 
doomed to much suffering, arising out of the disputes 
and divisions occasioned by the O'Kellyan secession, 


which has been already detailed. But while these 
things were transacting in those parts, to the grief 
of many pious hearts, the cause of Christ, through 
the labors of his faithful servants, was extend- 
ing in more favored portions of our country 
We have before seen, that as early as 1786, 
the Methodist preachers had penetrated the western 
wilderness beyond the Alleghany mountains, and that 
they had gradually extended their labors from year 
to year, being led on and encouraged in their work 
both by the example and precept of Bishop Asbury, 
who was generally in the foremost ranks when danger 
and hardship were to be encountered and endured. 
This year a conference was appointed to be held in 
Kentucky, on the 15th of April, and the bishop set 
off to meet his brethren at that place On the 20th 
of January he reached the city of Charleston, S. C, 
where he found himself so unwell, that he was 
obliged to relinquish his intended journey to the 
west ; and that the reader may see for himself the 
manner in which this apostolic man employed his 
time, the extent of his labors in the cause of God, 
and the privations to which he was often subjected, 
we will endeavor to follow him in some of his jour- 
neyings this year. After mentioning the kindness 
and hospitality with which he had been treated in his 
affliction, while at Charleston, he says,- — - 

" I have written largely to the west, and declined visit- 
ing those parts this year. The American Alps, the deep 
wiows, the great rains, swimming the creeks and rivers, 
riding in the night, sleeping on the earthen floors, more or 
less of which I must experience, if I go to the western 
country, might, at this time, cost, me my life. I have only 


12 A HISTORY or THIS [1794 

been able to preach four times in. three weeks. I have 
had sweet peace at times since I have been here ; the love 
of meetings, especially those for prayer, the increase of 
hearers, the attention of the people, my own better feelings, 
and the increasing hope of good that prevails among the 
preachers, lead me to think that the needy shall not always 
be forgotten, nor the expectation of the poor perish." 

He remained in Charleston, employing his time in 
the best manner he could, while endeavoring to recruit 
his exhausted strength, until February 28th, when he 
set off on a tour through different parts of the southern 
country, visiting the churches, and setting things in 
order. On the 20th of March, he says, — 

" I directed my course, in company with my faithful 
fellow-laborer, Tobias Gibson, up the Catawba, settled 
mostly by the Dutch. A barren spot for religion. - Hav- 
ing rode in pain twenty-four miles, we came, weary and 

hungry, to O 's tavern, and were glad to take what 

came to hand. Four miles forward we came to Homes' 
Ford, upon Catawba river, where we could neither get a 
canoe nor guide. We entered the water in an improper 
place, and were soon among the rocks and in the whirl- 
pools. My head swam, and my horse was affrighted. 
The water was to my knees, and it was with difficulty we 
retreated to the same shore. We then called to a man on 
the other side, who came and piloted us across, for which 
I paid him well. My horse being afraid to take the water 
a second time, brother Gibson crossed and sent me his, 
and our guide took mine across. We went on, but our 
(roubles were not at an end ; night came on and it was 
very dark. It rained heavily, with powerful lightning and 
thunder. We could not find the path that turned out to 
Connell's. In this situation we continued until midnight 


or past. At last we found a path which we followed until 
we came to dear old father Harper's plantation ; we made 
for the house, and called ; he answered, but wondered 
who it could be ; he inquired whence we came ; I told 
him we would tell him when we came in ; for it was rain- 
ing so powerfully that we had not much time to talk. 
When I came dripping into the house, he cried, ' God bless 
your soul, is it brother Asbury ? Wife, get up.' " 

After such a salutation they felt themselves at home, 
though much fatigued from their exposure and long 

After some farther remarks expressive of his 
thankfulness to God for the sweet peace of mind he 
enjoyed amid his physical sufferings and toilsome 
labors, he says, " This campaign has made me groan, 
being burdened? — ." I have provided brothers G. 
and L. for the westward. I wrote a plan for sta 
tioning, and desired the preachers to be, as I am, in 
the work. I have no interest, no passions, in their 
appointments ; my only aim is to care and provide for 
the flock of Christ." — " I feel that my sufferings 
have been good preaching to me — especially in 
crossing the waters. I am solemnly moved in not 
visiting my Holstein and Kentucky brethren. It may 
be their interest to desire the preservation of my life. 
While living I may supply them with preachers, and 
with men and money. I feel resolved to be wholly 
the Lord's. Weak as I am, I have done nothing, I 
am nothing, only for Christ." 

From this part of the country he came north, 
through Virginia, and on to Baltimore, where he took 
sweet counsel in the midst of his old friends. 
Thence he passed on through Pennsylvania, New- 


14 A HISTORY OF THE [1794. 

Jersey, and New-York, visiting all the principal cities 
and towns on his way, attending conferences and preach- 
ing to the people, and passed into the New-England 
states. The following are some of his pointed re- 
marks upon the state of things in this country : — 

"Ah! here are walls of prejudice, but God can break 
them down. Out of fifteen United States, thirteen are free ; 
but two are fettered with ecclesiastical chains — taxed to 
support ministers, who are chosen by a small committee, 
and settled for life.* My simple prophecy is, that this 
must come to an end with the present century. f The 
Rhode Islanders began in time and are free. Hail, sons 
of liberty ! Who first began the war V (of the revolution, 
doubtless is meant.) " Were it not Connecticut and Mas- 
sachusetts ? And priests are now saddled upon them. O 
what a happy people would these be, if they were not thus 
priest-ridden. J It is well for me that I am not stretching 
along, while my body is so weak, and the heat so intense." 
" I heard — read a most severe letter from a citizen of Ver- 
mont to the clergy and Christians of Connecticut, striking 
at the foundation .and principle of the hierarchy and the 
policy of Yale College, and the independent order. It was 
expressive of the determination of the Vermonters to con- 
tinue free from ecclesiastical fetters, to follow the Bible, 
equal liberty to all denominations of Christians. If so, 
why may not the Methodists, who have been repeatedly 
solicited, visit these people also ?" 

* It is not, I believe, generally the case, that a minister is 
settled for life. 

t It has come to an end, though not quite so soon as there 

J The bishop undoubtedly alludes to their being supported 
by law — by a legal taxation, which he considered contrary to 
the gospel — and not to the fact simply of their having stated 


These extracts show, in a striking manner, the 
immense labors performed by this primitive bishop, 
in the name of Jesus Christ. Nor was he alone in 
these labors. His example provoked others to fol- 
low in his footsteps, who, though they were not 
called to travel so extensively, were equally assiduous, 
and alike successful in their endeavors to plant the 
standard of Jesus Christ in various parts of this con- 
tinent. Among others we may mention a William 
Waiters, the first Methodist preacher raised up ir, 
America, who traversed the western wilds, and labor- 
ed in the woods of Kentucky ; a Garrettson, who 
opened the way into the interior of New- York state, 
and penetrated even to Vermont ; a Lee, who led the 
way into New-England, and laid the foundation for 
that work of God there which has since reared itself 
in beauty and glory, amid " fightings without and 
fears within ;" a Roberts and a Cooper, who followed 
in the track marked out for them by Lee, and nobly 
stood their ground amid storms of reproach, and 
" labors more abundant." These leaders of " God's 
sacramental host" being aided by their associates, all 
zealous for God and for the salvation of souls, were 
scattering the " good seed of the kingdom" in every 
direction, and we who have followed them have had 
the happiness of seeing it " take root and bear fruit," 
in some places thirty, in others sixty, and in some 
a hundred fold. 

In the preceding extract from Bishop Asbury's 
Journal, we have seen that he alludes to Vermont, to 
which they had been solicited to send preachers. 
It is well known that in this state there were no legal 
barriers in the way of any denomination of Christians, 


16 A HISTORY OF THE [1794 

but that all were permitted the free and unrestrained 
exercise of their peculiarities. Although as early as 
1788 Mr. Garrettson had visited the southern borders 
of the state, and preached in a few places, it was not 
until this year that any of our preachers obtained a 
permanent foothold there ; but this year, Joshua Hull 
was sent to Vermont, and his labors were made 
a blessing to many. Since that time the cause of 
Methodism has advanced rapidly among the people in 
almost, every part of the state, to the reformation and 
salvation of thousands of souls. 

This year also Methodism was introduced into the 
province of Maine, by the indefatigable labors of 
Jesse Lee. In Portland he preached in the Congre- 
gational church, and then passed on through Freeport 
and Bath, crossed the Kennebeck river, and went as 
far as the town of Penobscot. In most of the places 
he was cordially received, and succeeded in forming a 
regular circuit, and this laid a foundation for the perma- 
nent establishment of Methodism in Maine. He gives 
the following account of his first visit to Portsmouth : — 

" Sunday the 8th of September, I went to hear Mr. 
Watters in the forenoon and in the afternoon. After he 
was done, I went with some friends to the court-house, 
but the great men would not let us go into the house to 
preach, so I got on the step of the door of the court-house 
and began. When I commenced I had about a dozen 
people, but they soon began to flock together, and I had 
some hundreds of them to hear me before I had done. 
They stood in different parts of the streets. I found much 
freedom in speaking, and the word reached many of the 
hearts of the hearers, who were as solemn and attentive 
as though they had been in a meeting house." 


It may be remarked that the settlements along the 
Penobscot river at that time had been newly formed, 
and were destitute of settled pastors ; hence the people 
were much gratified with the visit of Mr. Lee, and those 
who succeeded him ; and though he had to contend 
with many difficulties, as a stranger bearing a message 
differing in so many particulars from what they had 
been accustomed to hear, yet God gave him favor in 
the eyes of the people, and strength to persevere in 
his good work, until he had opened a way for the 
establishment of regular preaching in that destitute 
part of the country. 

New-Hampshire was also visited about this time. 
John Hill was the first Methodist preacher sent into 
that slate : but with what success I cannot tell, as we 
do not find any members returned on the minutes in 
that state for this year. 

At the several annual conferences for this year, the 
following resolutions were passed : — 

" It is most earnestly recommended by the conferences, 
that the last Friday in February, 1795, be set apart 
throughout the United States, by the members of the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church, as a day of solemn fasting and 
prayer, and that all worldly concerns be laid aside. 

" It is also recommended by said conferences, that the 
last Thursday in October be set apart as a day of solemn 
and general thanksgiving, and that all servile labor be laid 
aside, and those days be observed with all the solemnity 
of a Sabbath." 

They furthermore said, " The bishops and confer- 
ences desire that the preachers generally change every 
six months, by the order of the presiding elder, when- 
ever it can be made convenient." 


18 A HISTORY OF THE [1794. 

No less than twenty-eight preachers took a loca- 
tion this year, either in consequence of " weakness 
of body or family concerns." Two, Jeremiah Cos- 
don and Jethro Johnson, withdrew from the connec- 
tion ; and four were " dismissed for improper con- 
duct." Four had died, namely, Philip Cox, Henry 
Birchett, James Wilson, and John Wayne. 

Of Philip Cox, who was an Englishman by birth, 
it is stated that he had been sixteen years in the 
ministry, during which time he had traveled exten- 
sively in several of the states, and preached the gos- 
pel with considerable success. He was a man of 
sound judgment, of quick apprehension, and a great 
lover of union, and often prayed and preached to the 
admiration of his hearers. He was among the 
pioneers of the western wilds, where he labored assidu- 
ously and strove to do good by the circulation of religious 
books. On his return from the west he was seized 
with a complaint which soon put a period to his ex- 
istence. Though in his last moments, through the 
violence of his disease, he was, for the most part of 
the time, delirious, yet he gave evidence to his friends 
that he died in peace. 

Henry Birchett fell a martyr to his work, after 
having been in the traveling ministry only between 
five and six years. He was a native of Brunswick 
county, Virginia. He volunteered his services for 
four years in the dangerous stations of Kentucky 
and Cumberland, and wore himself out in preaching 
the gospel in these new countries. His name, 
therefore, stands enrolled among those worthy and self- 
denying men who hazarded their all for the sake of 
carrying the glad tidings of the gospel to the poor 


and the destitute, exposed to hunger, cold, ai<d naked- 
ness, and to the depredations of savages : for such 
was the state of things in Kentucky and other places 
where he traveled, that often even the necessaries of 
life could not be had, nor the wildernesses traversed 
without the danger of being intercepted by savage 
foes. But the meekness, love, prayers, sermons, 
and sufferings in the cause of Christ of Henry Bir- 
chett, will not be forgotten by the sons and daughters 
of Kentucky, who have reaped spiritual benefit from 
the work which was commenced by his labors and 
sacrifices, and has been since carried forward by his 
successors in the ministry. 

Of James Wilson and John Wayne, it is said that, 
after the former had labored in the ministry about six, 
and the latter about four years, with general accept- 
ance, they both died in peace. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year, 52,794 13,814 66,608 301 

Last year, 51,416 16,227 67,643 269 

Decrease, 1,035 In. 32 

1795. The number of annual conferences was 
reduced this year to seven, greatly to the inconveni- 
ence of the preachers, and it is believed to the detri- 
ment of the work of God. This diminution in the 
number of the conferences was made in consequence 
of the general opposition of the preachers to having 
so many, by which they thought the powers of the 
conferences were abridged, and those of the bishop 
proportionably augmented ; and hence, to take away 
all such ground of fear, the bishops yielded to the 


20 A HISTORY OF THE [1795. 

wishes of their brethren, notwithstanding they were 
satisfied that, otherwise, it was not for the best. 

Some idea may be formed of the extent of the an- 
nual conferences at. this time, when it is remembered 
that the New- York conference comprehended within its 
bounds most of the state of New- York, the whole of 
New-England, and the province of Upper Canada; out 
of which have been since formed, the New-England, 
Maine, New-Hampshire, Troy, Oneida, Black River, and 
part of Genesee and the Canada conferences; and the 
other conferences were proporlionably great in extent. 
Some of the circuits at that time included a larger 
extent of territory than districts do now, — a four 
weeks' circuit often being not less than four hundred 
miles in circumference, and including from twenty to 
forty appointments in thirty days. Such were the 
labors of the Methodist ministry in those days. 

In consequence of reducing the number of annual 
conferences to seven, some of the preachers, who la- 
bored in the frontier circuits, had to come from two to 
four hundred miles to attend the conferences, which 
obliged them to leave their regular work from three to 
six weeks, during which time the people were unsup- 
plied with the word and ordinances of the gospel. 
This, in addition to the expense of time and money 
consumed in traveling such a distance, was an evil of 
no small magnitude, and against which a remedy has 
been since wisely provided in an increase of the num- 
ber of the annual conferences. 

But the reduction' in the number of conferences 
diminished naught from the labors of the superintend- 
ent, nor of those preachers who were fighting the bat- 
tles of the Lord in different parts of the great field in 



which they were employed. The former made hi3 
usual tour of the continent, extending his labors this 
year into the state of Vermont, where he preached in 
the woods in the town of Bennington, to a congrega- 
tion made up, he says, of Deists, Universalists, and 
other sinners, some of whom seemed to be melted to 
tenderness under the word. 

About this time the minds of many people were 
corrupted by the deistical writings of Thomas Paine, 
whose effusions against the Bible were received with 
greater avidity by Americans on account of the emi- 
nent services he had rendered to his country during 
the war of the revolution. But Thomas Paine as a 
politician and Thomas Paine as a theologian were 
very different men. His book, however, against the 
Bible, was published by the booksellers, which, toge- 
ther with others of a kindred character, were widely 
circulated, and they were exerting a most deleterious 
influence upon the minds of many of our citizens, and 
threatened to poison the fountains of knowledge with 
their pestiferous contents. It could hardly be other- 
wise, under these circumstances, than that immorality 
should abound, and the "love of many wax cold." 
And the unrestrained freedom of the press, together 
with the laxity with which the laws against vice were 
administered, threatened to deluge the country with 
ungodliness. To impress upon all, and more espe- 
cially upon the members and friends of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, the necessity of a more thorough 
and extensive reformation among all orders of people, 
a " general fast" was recommended by the several 
annual conferences, in the following address to the 
people of their charge : — 


22 A HISTORY OF THE [1795 

" It is recommended by the general traveling ministry of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church, that the first Friday in 
March, 1796, should be held as a most solemn day of fast- 
ing, humiliation, prayer, and supplication. It is desired 
that it should be attended to in all our societies and con- 
gregations, with Sabbatical strictness — that we should be- 
wail our manifold sins and iniquities — our growing idola- 
try, which is covetousness and the prevailing love of the 
world — our shameful breach of promises, and irreligious 
habits of making contracts, even without the intention of hon- 
est heathens to fulfil them — our superstition, the trusting in 
ceremonial and legal righteousness ; and substituting means 
and opinions for religion — the profanation of the name of 
the Lord — the contempt of the Sabbath, even by those who 
acknowledge the obligation we are under to keep it holy, 
for many make no distinction between this and a common 
day, and others make a very bad distinction, by sleeping, 
walking, visiting, talking about the world, and taking their 
pleasure ; too many also, in many parts of the country, 
profane the sacred day. by running their land and water 
stages, wagons, &c, — disobedience to parents, various 
debaucheries, drunkenness, and such like — to lament the 
deep-rooted vassalage that still reigneth in many parts of 
these free, independent United States — to call upon the 
Lord to direct our rulers and teach our senators wisdom — 
that the Lord would teach our people a just and lawful 
submission to their rulers — that America may not commit 
abominations with other corrupt nations of the earth, and 
partake of their sins and their plagues — that the gospel 
may be preached with more purity, and be heard with 
more affection — that He would stop the growing infidelity 
of this age, by calling out men who shall preach and live 
the gospel — hat the professors may believe the truths, feel 
the power, partake of the blessings, breathe the spirit, am 1 
obey the precepts of this glorious gospel dispensation- 


that Africans and Indians may help to fill the pure church 
of God." 

At the same time, with a view to manifest their 
gratitude for what God had done, and for the many- 
temporal and spiritual mercies vouchsafed unto the 
people, a day of " general thanksgiving," was also 
recommended in the words following : — 

" It is recommended, by the general ministry, to all our 
dearly beloved brethren and sisters that compose our 
societies and sacred assemblies, to observe the last Thurs- 
day in October, 1796, as a day of holy gratitude and 
thanksgiving — to lay aside the cares of the world, and to 
spend the day in acts of devotional gratitude — as a society, 
to give glory to God for his late goodness to the ancient 
parent society from whom we are derived : that they have 
been honored with the conversion of hundreds and thou- 
sands within these two years last past — for such a signal 
display of his power in the Methodist society, within the 
space of twenty-six years, through the continent of America, 
as may be seen in the volume of our annual minutes, pub- 
lished in 1795 — for the late glorious and powerful work we 
have had in Virginia and Maryland, and which still con- 
tinues in an eminent and special manner, in some parts of 
our American connection — for the many faithful public 
witnesses which have been raised up, and that so few, (com- 
paratively speaking,) have dishonoured their holy calling — 
that we have had so many drawn from the depths of sin 
and misery, to the heights of love and holiness among the 
subjects of grace ; numbers of whom are now living, and 
others have died in the full and glorious triumph of faith — 
to take into remembrance the goodness and wisdom of God 
displayed toward America, by making it an asylum for 
those who are distressed in Europe with war and want, 
and oppressed with ecclesiastic and civil tyranny ; the 

24 A HISTORY OF THE tl795. 

merciful termination of our various wars ; the pacifications 
of the savage tribes ; and the rapid settlement and wonder- 
ful population of the continent; that we have been able to 
feed so many thousands, at home and abroad ; that we 
have had such faithful, wise, and skilful rulers ; that we 
have such good constitutions formed for the respective states 
— for the general union and government, that this may be 
kept pure and permanent — for the admirable revolution 
obtained and established at so small a price of blood and 
treasure — that religious establishments by law are con- 
demned and exploded in almost every spot of this exten- 
sive empire. And for African liberty ; we feel gratitude 
that many thousands of these poor people are free and 

The work of God spread this year in several 
parts of New-England, more particularly in the pro- 
vince of Maine, New-Hampshire, and Vermont, and 
also in the northern and western parts of the stale 
of New-York. But nothing occurred in this depart- 
ment worthy of special notice. 

No less than thirty-two preachers located this 
year, three withdrew from the church, and Jive had 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 48,121 12,170 60,291 313 

Last year 52,794 13,814 66,608 301 

Decrease 4,673 1,644 6,317 In. 12 

This great decrease was owing, in a great measure, 
to the O'Kellyan division, which was now at its 
height, and was spreading desolation in many of the 
societies in Virginia, and also in some parts of North 


1796. There were seven annual conferences held 
this year : and the following new circuits were added : 
Shelby and Logan, in the Western Conference ; Bath 
and Kennebec, in the province of Maine ; Cape May, 
in New-Jersey ; Chesterfield, in New-Hampshire ; 
and Vershire, in Vermont. 

This year a conference was held at Green Briar, 
in the upper part of Virginia, which Bishop Asbury 
attended ; after which he set off on another tour over 
the mountains and through the valleys. 

" Frequently," he says, " we were in danger of being 
plucked from our horses by the boughs of the trees under 
which we rode. About seven o'clock, after crossing six 
mountains and many rocky creeks and fords of Elk and 
Monongahela rivers, we made the Valley of Distress, called 
by the natives Tyger's Valley. We had a comfortable 
lodging at Mr. White's. And here I must acknowledge 
the kindness and decency of the family, and their readiness 
to duty, sacred and civil. Thence we hastened on at the 
rate of forty-two miles a day." — " After encountering many 
difficulties, known only to God and ourselves, we came to 
Morgantown. I doubt whether I shall ever request any 
person to come and meet me at the levels of Green Briar, 
or to accompany me across the mountains again, as brother 
D. Hitt has now done. O ! how checkered is life ! How 
thankful ought I to be that I am here safe, with life and 
limbs, in peace and plenty, at kind brother S -'s." 

After performing this fatiguing journey, visiting 
various places and preaching to the people, he once 
more found himself in more comfortable quarters in 
the older states, where lie persevered with his wonted 
diligence in the grand work to which he had been 
called, and in which his soul delighted. After arriv- 

Vol. II 2 

26 A HISTORY OF THE [1796 

ing at Baltimore, he takes a " review of his journey 
for some months past," which, as it will give the 
reader some idea of the manner in which the bishop 
employed his time, we will present in his own words . 

" From the best judgment I can form, the distance" 
(I have traveled) " is as follows : — from Baltimore 
to Charleston, S. C, one thousand miles ; thence up 
the state of South Carolina two hundred miles ; from 
the centre to the west of Georgia two hundred miles ; 
through North Carolina one hundred miles ; through 
the state of Tennessee one hundred miles ; through 
the west of Virginia three hundred miles ; through 
Pennsylvania and the west of Maryland, and down 
to Baltimore, four hundred miles." And the reader 
will recollect that these journeys were performed 
generally on horseback, sometimes through creeks, 
morasses, and over high mountains, often lodging in log 
cabins, or on the ground, with coarse fare, and in the 
meantime preaching usually every day. It is true 
that in the older settlements he was not only cordially 
received and treated with great hospitality, but was 
blessed with an abundance of temporal comforts. 
And the above is but a fair specimen of the mode of 
life pursued by most of the Methodist preachers of 
that day, with this exception only, that they did not 
travel so extensively as Bishop Asbury did. 

The work of God spread this year in some parts 
of New-England, particularly in the province of 
Maine, and in the states of New-Hampshire and 
Vermont. Alluding to these things, while on his visit 
to that part of the country, Bishop Asbury remarks : — - 

" This day I was led out greatly for New-England. I 
believe God will work among this people. Perhaps they 


have not had such a time here for many years. The 
power of God was present, and some felt as at heaven's 
gate. Two or three women spoke as on the borders of eter- 
nity, and within sight of glory." 

It may be proper to remark here, that Bishop As- 
bury, wherever he was, did not content himself sim- 
ply with preaching to the people, but if time permit- 
ted, met the classes, explained to them the discipline, 
and attended to all the duties of a pastor. Thus, speak- 
ing of being in the city of New- York, he says that 
he " preached morning, afternoon, and evening, alter- 
nately in each of the three churches then in the city, 
besides meeting six classes in the course of the day." — 
" In meeting the society, I observed to them, that they 
knew but little of my life and labors, unless in the 
pulpit, family, or class meeting," — intimating that it 
was impossible for them to have any adequate idea 
of his general labors and sufferings through the 

This year that eminent servant of God, Benjamin 
Abbott, took his departure to another world. And as 
his life and labors made a powerful impression upon 
the community, and tended greatly to enlarge the 
work of God wherever he traveled, it seems suitable 
that a more particular account should be given of him 
than of some others. 

He was born in the state of Pennsylvania, in the 
year 1732, and grew to manhood " without hope and 
without God in the world," and so continued until 
the fortieth year of his age, when it pleased God to 
bring him to a knowledge of the truth by the instru- 
mentality of Methodist preaching. Soon after his 
conversion he gave evidence of his call to the gospel 


28 A HISTORY OF THE {1796. 

ministry, and he entered upon this work with an ardor 
of mind which plainly evinced that he was moving 
in the order of God, and it may be truly said that 
" signs and wonders were wrought" by his instrumen- 
tality. For several years he labored merely as a lo- 
cal preacher, supporting himself and family by the 
labor of his hands. He continued in this way greatly 
blessed in his efforts to bring sinners to the know- 
ledge of Christ, until April, 1789, when he joined 
the traveling ministry, and was stationed in Dutchess 
circuit, in the state of New-York. From this time 
till disabled by infirmities, he continued traveling 
and preaching through various parts of New- York, 
New- Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware 
states, edifying the church by his example and labors, 
and he was an instrument in the hand of God of the 
awakening and conversion of thousands of souls. As 
some portions of his life were attended with remarka- 
ble interpositions of divine Providence and peculiar 
manifestations of the grace of God, I think it will be 
both pleasing and profitable to the reader to present a 
few of the instances in this place. While laboring in 
the state of Delaware, he gives the following account : 

" Next day I set out for my appointment, but being a 
stranger, I stopped at a house to inquire the way, and the 
man told me he was just going to that place, for there was to 
be a Methodist preacher there that day ; and our preacher, 
said he, is to be there to trap him in his discourse, and if you 
will wait a few minutes until a neighbor of mine comes, I 
will go with you. In a few minutes the man came, who, it 
seems, was a constable. So we set off, and they soon fell 
into conversation about the preacher, having no idea of my 
being the man, as I never wore black, or any kind of 


garb that indicated my being a preacher, and so I rode un- 
suspected. The constable being a very profane man, he 
swore by all the gods he had, good and bad, that he would 
lose his right arm from his body if the Methodist preacher 
did not go to jail that day. This was the theme of their 
discourse. My mind was greatly exercised on the occa- 
sion, and what added, as it were, double weight, I was a 
stranger in a strange place, where I knew no one. When 
we arrived at the place appointed, I saw about two hun- 
dred horses hitched. I also hitched mine, and retired into 
the woods, where I prayed and covenanted with God on 
my knees, that if he stood by me in this emergency, I 
would be more for him, through grace, than ever I had 
been. I then arose and went to my horse, with a perfect 
resignation" to the will of God, whether to death or to jail. 
I took my saddlebags and went to the house ; the man took 
me into a private room, and desired I would preach in 
favor of the war, as I was in a Presbyterian settlement. 
I replied, I should preach as God should direct me. He 
appeared very uneasy and left me, and just before preach- 
ing, he came in again and renewed his request that I 
would preach up for war ; I replied as before, and then 
followed him out among the people, where he made pro- 
clamation as follows : — Gentlemen, this house is my own, 
and no gentleman shall be interrupted in my house in time 
of his discourse, but after he has done you may do as you 
please. Thank God, said I softly, that I have liberty once 
more to warn sinners before I die. I then took my stand, and 
the house was so crowded that no one could sit down. 
Some hundreds were round about the door. I stood about 
two or three feet from the constable who had sworn so bit- 
terly. When he saw that I was the man he had so abused on 
the way, with so many threats and oaths, his countenance 
fell and he turned pale. I gave out a hymn, but no one 
offered to sing ; I sung four lines, and kneeled down and 


30 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

prayed. When I arose, I preached with great liberty. I 
felt such power from God rest upon me, that I was above 
the fear of either men or devils, not regarding whether 
death or a jail should be my lot. Looking forward I saw 
a decent looking man trembling, and tears flowed in abun- 
dance, which I soon discovered was the case with many 
others. After preaching, I told them I expected they 
wanted to know by what authority I had come into that 
country to preach. I then told them my conviction and 
conversion, the place of my nativity and place of residence ; 
also, my call to the ministry, and that seven years I had 
labored in God's vineyard ; that I spent my own money 
and found and wore my own clothes, and that it was the 
love that I had for their precious souls, for whom Christ 
died, that had induced me to come among them at the risk 
of my life ; and then exhorted them to fly to Jesus, the ark 
of safety — that all things were ready — to seek, and they 
should find, to knock, and it should be opened unto them. 
By this time the people were generally melted into tears. 
1 then concluded, and told them on that day two weeks 
they might expect preaching again. I mounted my horse 
and set out with a friendly Quaker for a pilot. We had 
not rode above fifty yards, when I heard one hallooing 
after us. I looked back, and saw about fifty running after 
us. I then concluded that to jail I must go. We stopped, 
and when they came up, I crave your name, said one, — I 
told him, and so we parted. He was a justice of the 
peace, and was the person I had taken notice of in time of 
preaching, and observed him to be in great anxiety of 
mind. No one offered me any violence ; but they commit- 
ted the next preacher, on that day two weeks, to the com- 
mon jail. I went home with the kind Quaker, where I 
tarried all night. I found that himself and wife were un- 
der serious impressions, and had had Methodist preaching 
at their house." 


Though Mr. Wesley gives several accounts in his 
Journals of some persons being so affected under his 
preaching as to fall helpless to the floor or on the 
ground, yet such things had not been common in this 
country. It is true that in the great revival which took 
place in Virginia in the early days of Methodism, several 
such instances are recorded. But under the power- 
ful preaching of Mr. Abbott many examples of a par- 
tial suspension of the animal functions occurred, as the 
following extract will show : — 

" Next day I went on to my appointment, where we had 
a. large congregation : I preached with life and power, and 
God attended the word with the energy of his Spirit. A 
Quaker girl was powerfully wrought upon, so that every 
joint in her shook, and she would have fallen to the floor, 
but four or five took and carried her out of the door ; when 
she had recovered a little she went to a neighbor's house 
and told him that she had seen the dreadfulest old man 
tlidt she ever saw in all her life, and that he almost scared 
her to death, for his eyes looked like two balls of fire, and 
that she expected every minute he would jump at her. But, 
said the neighbor, I know the old man, and he would not 
hurt nor touch you. I went on, and the power of the Lord 
continued among us in such a manner that many fell to the 
floor, and others cried aloud for mercy. One young wo- 
man rose and began to exhort the people ; I stopped 
preaching, which I always judged was best, in similar 
instances, and let God send by whom he will send : she 
went on for some time with great life and power, and 
then cried out, Let us pray ; we all kneeled down, and she 
prayed with life and liberty, until she was spent and so 
forbore. A preacher being present, I called on him, and 
he went to prayer, and while he was praying three were 
set at liberty ; and, after him, myself and others prayed 


32 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

and several received justifying faith. The shout continued 
for the space of three or four hours. After meeting broke 
up, I thought it was not necessary to meet the class, as we 
had such a powerful time, and it had lasted so long 
already. The young woman who had given the exhorta- 
tion and prayed, took five others with her, and retired to 
the barn to pray for the mourners, who went with them, 
where they continued until late in the evening, and three 
souls were set at liberty ; another, as she was returning 
home, in sore distress, fell on her face in the woods, where 
she continued in prayer until God set her soul at liberty 
to rejoice in his love. An old Presbyterian woman re- 
quested me to call at her house on the ensuing day, as she 
wanted to discourse with me on religion ; I did call, and 
she received me very kindly, and then related her convic- 
tion and conversion, and added, that some years after, 
God had sealed her his to the day of eternity ; and, said 
she, neither our preachers or people will believe me, when 
I tell them how happy I am. I then endeavored to ex- 
plain to her the nature of sanctification, and what it was, 
and asked her if we should pray together ; she replied, 
With all my heart. After prayer I departed in peace, 
having no doubt but what God had sanctified her soul and 
body. She was the first Presbyterian that I ever had met 
with, that would acknowledge sanctification in its proper 

" I went to my next appointment, where I had put brother 
G. D., who professed sanctification, class leader, and the Lord 
attended his words with power. This had brought the man 
of the house where the class met into doubts, whether the 
Work was of God or the devil ; for the people had frequently 
fallen, both under his prayer and exhortation. Soon as I 
came to the house he related how great his exercises had 
been respecting the work. One day, said he, I thought I 
would go down to my stack yard, which stood some distance 


from the house, and there pray to God to discover the re- 
ality of it to me ; and on my way thither, as I sat on 
a fence, I thought I saw a man sitting on the next pannel ; 
I got off and went down to the stacks, and the man went 
with me, side by side, and when I kneeled down to pray, 
the man stood right before me. I prayed until my shirt 
was wet on my back, intreating God that he would give 
me some token, whereby I might know whether the work 
was of him or not. The man who stood before me said, 
Blessed are those tjiat are pure in heart. I then arose to 
see whether he was a man or not, and went to put my 
hand upon him, and he said, Touch me not ! I then turned 
myself round another way, and he stood right before me 
again, and said several other words which I do not relate, 
and then vanished, or ascended, as in aflame of fire. Now, 
said I, do you doubt about the matter, whether the work is 
of God or not ? No, said he, I have no doubts about it, 
for God has sent his angel to confirm me. I then went 
and preached, — the Lord was present. We had a glorious 
time, and several fell to the floor ; we had a precious 
time also in class, and two joined society. 

" Next day I went to my appointment, and found a large 
congregation. I preached, and the power of the Lord at- 
tended the word. One young man sprang from the bench 
and cried aloud for mercy, then fell on his knees and pray- 
ed fervently. I stopped preaching, and when he was 
done, I went to prayer with him, and after me several 
others ; many wept, some cried aloud for mercy, and others 
fell to the floor. When I dismissed the people to meet class, 
I invited the young man in. Here we had a precious sea- 
son among the dear people of God, and some mourners 
were set at liberty." ***** 

"I went home with brother M., and next day preached 
to a crowded house, with liberty : the power of the Lord 
arrested a young Quaker, and he fell to the floor as if he 

2* 2 

34 A HISTORY OF THE [1796 

had been shot : his mother being present, cried out, My 
son is dead ! My son is dead ! I replied, Mammy, your 
son is not dead ; look to yourself, mammy, your son is not 
dead ; and in a few minutes we had a number slain be- 
fore the Lord. An old Quaker man stood with tears in 
his eyes ; I said to him, Daddy, look to yourself; this 
was the way with you, when you had the life and power 
of God among you. Read Sewel's History of the people 
called Quakers, and you will find there that John Aud- 
land, a young man, was preaching in a field near Bristol, 
and the people fell to the ground before him, and cried out 
under the mighty power of God. The man of the house 
brought the book, and read the passage before the congre- 
gation, and he then acknowledged it to be the work of the 
Lord. I attempted to meet the class, but did not speak to 
above two or three, when the people fell before the Lord, 
as men slain in battle, and we had the shout of a king in 
the camp of Jesus : two or three professed that God had 
sanctified their souls. The young Quaker and several 
others professed that God had set their souls at liberty ; 
several joined society, and we had a precious time. 
When I went on that circuit, there were about six or 
seven in society at that place, and when I left it there were 
about thirty-six, six or seven of whom had been Quakers. 
At this place, our meetings were generally so powerful 
that I never regularly met the class during the time I was 
on the circuit — for we always had the shout of a king in 
the camp of Jesus — glory to God !" 

These instances serve to show the power and au- 
thority by which Benjamin Abbott spoke in the name 
of the Lord ; and though there might have been some 
human weakness mingling with these signal displays 
of the power of God, yet it is manifest that in most 


cases the work was genuine, as appeared by its 
fruits ; for " by their fruits ye shall know them." 

The writer of his life gives the following very 
affecting account of an incident which strikingly ex- 
emplifies the tenderness of his conscience and the hu- 
mility of his mind : — 

" On his way to a quarterly meeting, about the first of 
February, 1795, the presiding elder mentioned to him, 
' that the people there thought he had power by faith to 
open or shut the gates of heaven.' Mr. Abbott said to me, 
when conversing on this subject, ' It went through my 
soul like a dagger : I was grieved, for I saw that the idea 
led to idolatry, in ascribing to a poor mortal the power 
which is due to God only. I felt as if my usefulness 
were at an end ; although I did not discover to brother 

W , the presiding elder, how exceedingly I was hurt, 

nor was he, I believe, sensible of it.' They attended the 
quarterly meeting in great harmony, and the Master of as- 
semblies was present to the joy and consolation of many. 
At night Mr. Abbott was taken very ill, and never was 
able to attend a circuit as a traveling preacher, or scarcely 
ever to preach afterward ; so that his usefuiness, indeed, 
was, in one sense, at an end." 

The labors of Mr. Abbott were unremitting and 
most arduous, so that it may be said he literally 
wore himself out in the service of his divine Master. 
The last public service he performed was at the 
funeral of Mrs. Paul, in the town of Salem, N. J., in 
the month of April, 1796, and as it was attended 
with a remarkable incident, evincing the blessed 
results of ministerial faithfulness, I will give it in the 
words of the biographer. It is as follows : — 

" After the funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Mor- 


36 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

ford, he arose and gave an exhortation, and particularly 
addressed himself to Mr. W., a man whom he had loved as 
himself, and who had, through the subtilty of Satan, de- 
parted from better knowledge. In his exhortation he call- 
ed to mind the happy hours he had spent under his roof ; 
how much he (Mr. W.) had done for the cause of God ; 
and how often they had rejoiced together as fellow-labor- 
ers in Christ Jesus ; and then warned him in the most 
solemn manner of his impending danger, in the love and 
fear of God, until tears flowed, his strength failed, and he 
was unable to speak any longer. 

" While the interment of the corpse took place, Mr. Ab- 
bott retired to a friend's house, unable to attend it. After 
the interment, Mr. W. addressed the audience on the occa- 
sion and appeared angry, apprehending that he had been 
ill used. I spoke to him on the occasion, and endeavored 
to reason the case with him ; but to very little purpose, 
for he apprehended that I had been the instigator of th6 
supposed affront, and appeared as much offended with me 
as with Mr. Abbott. After my return from the interment, 
I went and informed Mr. Abbott of the matter : ' Why,' 
said he, ' if I were able to take my horse and go and see 
him, I should not have made use of that opportunity ; but 
as I am not able to go and see him, I was convinced that 
if I let that opportunity pass, I should never have another ; 
and I thought it my duty to speak as I did : therefore I 
leave the event to God. I am sure that it cannot hurt 
him, or do him any injury ; for a man that is posting in the 
broad way to damnation, cannot be easily worsted. O!' 
said he, ' I have seen the time that we have rejoiced to- 
gether as fellow-laborers in Christ, and it grieves my soul 
to see that the devil has got the advantage of him !' 
On Mr. W.'s return home, he wrote a letter to Mr. Ab- 
bott on the occasion, justifying himself and his conduct. 
However, the Spirit of God fastened it on him, as a nail 


in a sure place ; for at our first quarterly "meeting held at 
Salem, after Mr. Abbott's death, in the love feast, Mr. W. 
arose and openly declared that God had healed all his 
backslidings, and that he had made his servant, Father Ab- 
bott, an instrument in his divine hand to bring about his 

After lingering along the shores of time for several 
months, he finally closed his life in triumph on the 
14lh day of August, 1796, aged about sixty-four 
years. The following is an account of the closing 
scene of his life : — 

" My brother went to see him, and found him very 
poorly, to whom he said, ' Brother Ffirth, I am going to 
die, and to-morrow you must go to Philadelphia, for bro- 
ther M'Claskey to come and preach my funeral sermon:' 
to which my brother replied, ' Father Abbott, you may con- 
tinue for some time yet, as the time of your death is un- 
certain.' ' No,' said he, ' I shall die before you would get 
back from Philadelphia, unless you should travel in the 
night.' My brother replied, ' It will not answer to go be- 
fore your decease.' ' Why,' said he, ' I shall die, and I 
do not wish my body kept until it is offensive : you know 
the weather is warm and the distance is considerable.' 
* That is true,' replied my brother, ' but if I were to go to 
Philadelphia for brother M'Claskey, to preach your fune- 
ral sermon, and you not dead, the friends would laugh at 
me, and he would not come.' ' Ah !' said he, ' it may be 
so ; I never thought of that ; perhaps it will be best to stay 
until I am dead.' 

" Next day, observing a visible alteration in him, my 
brother concluded to tarry with him until his exit : during 
the day he continued in a rack of excruciating pain, which 
he bore with Christian patience and resignation. He was 


38 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

happy in God, and rejoiced at his approaching dissolution ; 
and seemed much engaged in his soul with God. He ap- 
peared to possess his rational faculties to his last moments ; 
and for some time previous thereunto he' was delivered 
from that excruciating pain, to the joy of his friends ; his 
countenance continued joyful, heavenly, and serene. His 
last sentence, that was intelligibly articulated, was, ' Glory 
to God ! I see heaven sweetly opened before me !' 

" After this, his speech so much failed that he could 
not be distinctly understood, only now and then a word, 
as, ' See ! — see ! — glory ! — glory !' &c." 

Mr. Abbott was, in many respects, a remarkable 
man ; not, indeed, on account of his intellectual or 
literary attainments, for he was extremely illiterate, 
and of very limited information. Were we, therefore, 
to measure his standard of excellence as a preacher 
by the usual rules by which it is determined, he 
would sink perhaps below mediocrity ; for such was 
his deficiency in respect to his knowledge even of his 
vernacular tongue that he could scarcely express 
himself grammatically on any subject ; yet with all 
these defects, he had drunk so deeply at the fountain 
of spiritual life, had made himself so thoroughly ac- 
quainted with the Holy Scriptures, and had such an 
accurate knowledge of the human heart, and was, 
moreover, so deeply impressed by the Holy Spirit that 
it was his duty to call sinners to repentance, that when- 
ever he spoke in the name of the Lord there was an 
" unction from the Holy One" attending his word, 
which made it manifest to all that he was sent from 
heaven to beseech mankind to be reconciled to God. 

Though a Boanerges or son of thunder in the 
pulpit, especially in his appeals to the impenitent, yet 


in private circles, in conversation with his friends, and 
in his addresses to mourning penitents, he was all 
love and meekness, manifesting the simplicity and 
docility of a child. But that which distinguished him 
most eminently among his fellows was the power 
which he seemed to have with God in prayer. Per- 
haps he seldom entered the pulpit, or appeared be- 
fore a congregation as God's messenger, without pre- 
viously " wrestling in the strength of mighty prayer," 
and God did indeed " reward him openly." Many 
were the instances in which his heavenly Father an- 
swered his " strong cries and tears," while pouring 
out the desire of his heart before him in prayer. 
And let it be recollected that such prayer, which 
takes hold on God, always supposes the exercise of 
strong faith in Jesus Christ, that faith which says, " I 
will not let thee go unless thou bless me." 

Such was Benjamin Abbott. And though we can- 
not enroll him among those who have distinguished 
themselves by scientific research, or deep theological 
knowledge, yet we may inscribe upon his tombstone, 
Here lies the man whom God delighted to honor as 
the instrument of saving many sinners from the error 
of their ways. Through his energetic labors an im- 
pulse was given to the work of God in this country 
which has been felt through all our borders from that 
day to this ; and hence his name may be fitly asso- 
ciated with those who were honored of God in build- 
ing up our Zion as on a hill, from which light has 
been reflected on thousands who have been brought 
under its holy and happy influence. 

Another distinguished, though humble and unpre- 
tending servant of God was taken this year from the 


40 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

militant to the church triumphant. Francis Acuff, 
born in Virginia, and brought up in Tennessee, has left 
a name in the west which will be remembered with 
grateful recollections while Methodism shall continue 
to live and flourish in that country. He resided in 
Holstein, Tennessee ; and though only three years in 
the traveling ministry, yet such were his talents and 
indefatigable labors in the work, that he won the con- 
fidence and affection of the people for whose salva- 
tion he devoted his strength ; they lamented over his 
untimely grave as over the remains of a departed 
friend. He had only attained to the twenty-fifth 
year of his age when he was cut down as a flower, 
in the morning, and taken to ripen in the paradise of 

As an instance of the strong attachment which was 
felt by those who were best acquainted with this man 
of God, I will give the following anecdote on the au- 
thority of the author of " Short Sketches of Revivals of 
Religion in the Western Country." An Englishman by 
the name of William Jones, on his arrival in Virginia, was 
sold for his passage. He served his time, four years, 
with fidelity, conducted himself with propriety, and 
was finally brought to the knowledge of the truth by 
means of Methodist preaching. As he had been 
greatly blessed under the preaching of Mr. Acuff, 
when he heard of his death, Billy, as he was called, 
determined to visit his grave. Though he had to 
travel a long distance through the wilderness, in which 
he had heard that the Indians often killed people by 
the way, yet his great desire to visit the grave of his 
friend and pastor impelled him forward, believing that 
the Lord in whom he trusted was able to protect him 


from savage cruelty, and provide for his wants. " When 
I came to the rivers," said he, " I would wade them, 
or if there were ferries they would take me over, and 
when I was hungry the travelers would give me a 
morsel of bread. When I came to Mr. Greene's, in 
Madison county, I inquired for our dear brother Acuff 's 
grave. The people looked astonished, but directed 
me to it. I went to it, felt my soul happy, kneeled 
down, shouted over it, and praised the Lord !" Such 
a mark of strong affection in a simple follower of Je- 
sus Christ speaks volumes in favor of the man over 
whose grave those grateful recollections were so 
piously indulged. 

Another of the veterans who fell in the field this 
year deserves a passing notice. Reuben Ellis had 
traveled extensively, and preached with great accept- 
ance for about twenty years. He is said to have 
been a man of rather a slow apprehension, but of a 
sound understanding, possessed of godly simplicity 
and sincerity, and that his preaching was weighty and 
powerful. In his life he manifested great deadness to 
the world, living as in the immediate view of eternity. 
He was a native of North Carolina, and in the notice 
of his death it is stated that the people of the south 
"well knew his excellent worth, as a Christian and a 
minister of Christ." 

After laboring in various parts of the country, 
leaving behind him evidences of his fidelity and deep 
devotion to the cause of God, he closed his use- 
ful labors in the city of Baltimore, in the month of 
February, 1796, in the full hope of everlasting life. 
Some estimate may be formed of the high character he 
sustained by the fact, that the record of his death 


42 A HISTORY OF THE [1796 

says, " It is a doubt whether there be one left in all 
the connection higher, if equal, in standing, piety, or 

Jacob Brush, Stephen Davis, William Jessup, 
Richard Ivy, John Jarrell, and Zadoc Priest, of 
whom honorable mention is made, all died this year 
in the full hope of immortality and eternal life. 

In the early part of our history we have seen the 
kindness manifested to Mr. Asbury by Judge White 
of Kent county, Delaware state, during his seclusion 
from the fury of his persecutors. It is pleasant to 
reflect on the latter end of such men, and to see how 
the Lord rewarded them for their attentions to his 
servants. Last year Judge White died " in the Lord," 
and though he was not a preacher, the death of such 
a man is deserving a place in this record of the 
Lord's dealings with his church. The following is 
Bishop Asbury's account of the character and death 
of this good man : — 

"This day," May 21, 1795, " I heard of the death of 
one among my best friends in America, Judge White, of 
Kent county, Delaware. This news was attended with an 
awful shock to me. I have met with nothing like it in 
the death of any friend on the continent. Lord help us to 
live our short day to thy glory ! I have lived days, weeks, 
and months, in his house. O that his removal may be 
sanctified to my good, and the good of the family ! He 
was about sixty-five years of age. He was a friend to the 
poor and oppressed. He had been a professed Church- 
min, and was united to the Methodist connection about 
seventeen or eighteen years. His house and heart were 
always open ; and he was a faithful friend to liberty in 
spirit and in practice ; he was a most indulgent husband, 


a tender father, and an affectionate friend. He professed 
perfect love and great peace, living and dying." 

Such a testimony is alike honorable to him who 
made it, and to him in whose favor it was recorded, 
showing the gratitude and affectionate remembrance 
of the one', and the disinterested friendship and fidelity 
of the other. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

Last year, 48,121 12,170 60,291 313 

This year, 45,384 11,280 56,664 293 

Decrease, 2,737 890 3,627 20 

The reader will perceive that there had been a di- 
minution of numbers now for three years past. This 
is said to have been owing chiefly to the spirit of dis- 
satisfaction which had been spread abroad by the 
controversy of O'Kelly and his party. Such are the 
pernicious effects of divisions of this character upon 
the interests of true religion. 


An Account of the General Conference of 1796. 

This conference assembled in the city of Balti 
more, October 20th, 1796, and was composed of one 
hundred and twenty members. As there were no 
restrictions upon the powers of the conference at that 
time, they felt themselves at liberty to review our 


44 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

entire economy, and to make such alterations and addi- 
tions to the Discipline as they might consider would best 
promote the interests of the Church. Up to this time 
the bishops had a discretionary power to appoint as 
many annual conferences as they might judge would 
be most for the convenience of the preachers and 
people ; but this conference fixed their bounds, and 
determined that their number should be but six, 
with a proviso that, if the bishop saw proper, they 
might form an additional one in the province of Maine. 
We have already seen that the strength of the 
itinerating ministry was very much weakened, from 
year to year, by reason of the numerous locations 
which took place at the several annual conferences. 
This originated, in part at least, from the inadequate 
support which was provided for the preachers and 
their families, especially in the new settlements. The 
hardships to which they were exposed in traversing 
the wilderness, their scanty fare, and the excessive 
labors they were obliged to perform, brought on many 
of them premature old age, and in many instances 
they contracted those diseases which terminated in 
death. By these means, while some were doomed to 
linger on in feebleness and poverty, others were called 
to leave their widows and orphan children, to suffer 
from the privations brought upon them by the sacri- 
fices of their devoted husbands and parents. With 
such prospects before them, many, as before stated, 
were induced to forsake the itinerant field, in the hope 
of providing more adequately for themselves and 
families, while it may be presumed that some were 
actuated more from mercenary motives than merely 
from a fear of temporal want. 


To remedy an evil of such magnitude, and take 
away, as far as possible, all temptations to forsake the 
work of spreading the gospel by an itinerant ministry, 
many of the most devoted friends of the cause had 
looked with anxious hearts for some suitable means. 
The subject came up for consideration before this 
General Conference, and they finally resolved to 
create a fund for the relief of necessitous preachers, 
their wives, widows, and orphans. This was soon 
after incorporated by the legislature of Pennsylvania, 
under the following 

"articles of association 

Of the Trustees of the Fund for the Relief and Support of 
the itinerant, superannuated, and worn-out Ministers and 
Preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the Uni- 
ted States of America their Wives and Children, Widows 
and Orphans. 

" Art. 1. — It is provided and declared, that the name, 
style, and title of this corporation shall be, ' The Trustees 
of the Fund for the Relief and Support of the itinerant, su- 
perannuated, and worn-out Ministers and Preachers of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, (in the United States of 
America,) their Wives and Children, Widows and Orphans ;' 
and that the said trustees shall consist of John Dickins, 
Thomas Haskins, Jacob Baker, Henry Manly, Burton 
Wallace, Josiah Lusby, Hugh Smith, Caleb North, and 
Cornelius Comegys, and their successors, qualified and 
appointed as is hereinafter mentioned. And they are 
hereby vested with full powers for carrying into effect the 
benevolent and charitable purposes in this instrument 
mentioned and declared. 

" Art. 2. — It is provided and declared, that the said trus- 
tees, and their successors, by the name, style, and title 


46 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

aforesaid, shall be able and capable in law to take, receive, 
have, hold, possess, and enjoy, all, and all manner 
of lands, tenements, rents, annuities, franchises, and here- 
ditaments, and any sum or sums of money, and any man- 
ner and portion of goods and chattels, given, granted, or 
devised unto them or their successors, by any person or 
persons, bodies politic or corporate, agreeable to the inten- 
tion of the donors respectively, and according to the ob- 
jects, articles, and conditions, in this instrument mentioned 
and declared ; and by the name, style, and title aforesaid, 
shall be able and capable in law, to sue and be sued, 
plead and be impleaded, in any court or courts, before any 
judge or judges, justice or justices, in all manner of suits, 
complaints, pleas, causes, matters, and demands whatso 
ever, and all and every matter therein to do, in as full and 
effectual a manner as any other person or persons, bodies 
politic and corporate, within this commonwealth may or 
can do. 

" Art. 3. — It is provided and declared, that in case of 
the death, resignation, or expulsion from membership (ac- 
cording to the rules and discipline from time to time 
adopted by the itinerant ministers and preachers of the 
said Church, in their General Conference assembled) of any 
one or more of the members of the said corporation, or 
their successors, then, and in such case, it shall be the duty 
of the remaining trustees to nominate double the number of 
those whose seats may have been vacated as aforesaid, 
and to make a representation thereof, in writing, to the 
itinerant ministers and preachers of the said Church in 
their next General Conference assembled ; whose duty it 
shall be then and there to proceed to choose, and, by a 
majority of votes, appoint one or more persons (as the 
case may be) out of the whole number of those nominated 
by the trustees, as aforesaid, to fill such vacancy or vacan- 
cies, in order to keep up the number of nine trustees for 


ever : and upon every such choice and appointment a cer- 
tificate shall issue from the said General Conference signed 
by their president and countersigned by their secretary, 
and directed tojhe trustees of the said corporation, con- 
taining the name or names of the person or persons so 
chosen and appointed, which said certificate shall be regis- 
tered in the books of the said corporation ; and the person 
or persons thus chosen and appointed shall be vested with 
all the powers and immunities of a member of the said 
corporation — provided, nevertheless, that no person or per- 
sons shall be eligible as a trustee or trustees of the said 
corporation who has not been a member of the said Church 
(according to the rules and discipline thereof, as aforesaid) 
at least five years next preceding his or their election and 
appointment as aforesaid, and who shall not be at least 
twenty-five years of age. 

" Art. 4. — It is provided and declared, that the said cor- 
poration shall meat at least once in every year (for the de- 
spatch of their necessary business) at such time and place 
as a majority of them may judge most convenient and pro- 
per : and when so met they shall have power to make such 
by-laws, rules, and regulations for their government, in the 
management of their affairs, as a majority of them may judge 
necessary ; and also at every such annual meeting they 
shall proceed to choose, and by a majority of votes appoint 
two of their own number to act, the one as president, and 
the other as secretary, to the said corporation, who may 
continue them in office from year to year, as a majority of 
the said corporation may think proper. 

" Art. 5. — It is provided and declared, that if, at any 
time hereafter, a majority of the trustees should deem it 
expedient, by deed or otherwise, to grant, bargain, sell, 
convey, or otherwise dispose of any part or parcel of the 
estate, real or personal,' of, and belonging to, the said cor- 
poration, or charge or incumber the same, then, and in 


48 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

such case, it shall be their duty to make a representation 
thereof in writing to the itinerant ministers and preachers 
of the said Church, in their next General Conference as- 
sembled, who shall then and there judge j>f the necessity 
or expediency of such proposed sale ; and if two-thirds of 
the ministers and preachers, assembled as aforesaid, shall 
consent and agree thereto, a certificate shall issue from the 
said General Conference, signed by their president and 
countersigned by their secretary, declaring such approba- 
tion and consent, and specifying the kind and amount of 
the property to be sold or otherwise disposed of; which 
certificate shall be transmitted to the said trustees, who 
shall cause the same to be recorded in the books of the said 
corporation — provided, always, that the moneys arising 
from such licensed sale shall be .vested by the said trus- 
tees (as soon as conveniently may be) in such other secu- 
rities and property as, in the judgment of a majority of 
them, will be most productive and safe ; and provided 
farther, that the annual interest and income, arising from 
the money so vested, shall be exclusively applied in the 
manner and for the uses and purposes in this instrument 
mentioned and declared. 

" Art. 6. — It is provided and declared, that the annual 
rents, interest, and income of the estate, real and personal, 
which now does, or at any time hereafter may belong to 
the said corporation and their successors, shall by them be 
held subject to the exclusive order and control of the itine- 
rant ministers and preachers of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church in the United States of America, in their General 
Conference (from time to time) assembled: and the said 
ministers and preachers, thus assembled, are hereby vest- 
ed with full powers to appropriate and point out the mode 
of applying the same to the objects, under the limitations, 
and for the uses and purposes herein mentioned and 
expressly declared. 


" Art. 7. — It is provided and declared, that the object 
and design of the fund hereby intended to be established 
is expressly for the purposes of relieving the distresses, 
and supplying the deficiencies of the itinerant and super- 
annuated or worn-out ministers and preachers of the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America 
who remain in connection with, and continue subject to, the 
order and control of, the General Conference ; as also for 
the relief of the wives and children, widows and orphans, 
of such ministers and preachers, and for no other use, 
intent, or purpose whatever. 

" Art. 8. — It is provided and declared, that no sum ex- 
ceeding sixty-four dollars shall in any one year be appro- 
priated and applied to the use of an itinerant, superannu- 
ated, or worn-out single minister or preacher ; also that no 
sum exceeding one hundred and twenty-eight dollars, in 
any one year, shall be applied to the use of an itinerant, 
superannuated, or worn-out married minister or preacher ; 
and that no sum exceeding sixty-four dollars, in any one 
year, shall be applied to the use of each widow of such 
ministers and preachers as are herein before mentioned 
and described ; and also that no sum exceeding sixteen 
dollars shall be applied, in any one year, to the use of each 
child or orphan, of such ministers and preachers as are 
herein before particularly mentioned and described. 

" Art. 9. — It is provided and declared, that no sum or 
sums of money, under any pretence whatever, shall be 
drawn from the fund hereby intended to be established, 
other than for the uses and purposes, and under the limi- 
tations and restrictions, herein before expressly mentioned 
and declared — provided, nevertheless, that the trustees of 
the said corporation and their successors shall have power 
to draw and apply, from time to time, so much money be- 
longing to the said fund as in the judgment of a majority of 

Vol. II.— 3 

50 A HISTORY OF THK [1796 

them may be wanting to defray all the necessary expenses 
of conducting the business of the said corporation. 

" Art. 10. — It is provided and declared, that it shall be 
the duty of the trustees to cause regular and fair accounts 
to be kept (in books to be provided for that purpose) of the 
funds of the said corporation, as well as it respects the kind 
and amount of the capital stock, and of the annual interest and 
income thereof, as of all and every sum or sums of money 
which shall from time to time be drawn therefrom, for the 
objects, under the limitations, and for the uses and purposes 
herein before particularly mentioned and declared. And 
farther, it shall be the duty of the said trustees and their 
successors, at every General Conference of the preachers 
as aforesaid, to prepare and lay before them a statement 
of the affairs of the said fund, for their inspection and exa- 
mination ; which said statement shall be signed by the 
president and countersigned by the secretary of the said 
corporation, certifying that the same is fair and correct." 

It was provided, by a resolution of the General 
Conference, that the objects of this fund should be 
presented in an address to our brethren and friends, 
apd that they should be invited to fill it up by volun- 
tary contributions, donations, and bequests. This 
was accordingly done, and some subscribed liberally, 
while others stood aloof from it, thinking it most ad- 
visable to let the funds remain in the hands of the 
people, to be drawn out as they might be needed. 
Though the creation of the chartered fund originated 
from the purest motives, and has been kept up and 
superintended by some of the most benevolent spirits 
in the Church, yet it has never been able to pay more 
than from ninety to one hundred dollars a year to 
each annual conference ; and as this small amount 


would not, when divided among the several claim- 
ants, give to each but about two dollars a year, it may 
be questioned whether, by inducing a false depend- 
ence in the public mind, this fund has not defeated 
the objects of its institution, and disappointed the ex- 
pectations of its benevolent founders and patrons. It 
has continued, however, in existence, has gradually 
increased in its resources, and its avails are scrupu- 
lously applied according to the provisions of its char- 
ter, and hence for the good it has done we have rea- 
son to be thankful, and especially to those generous 
rri£n who have, from time to time, gratuitously su- 
perintended its affairs, and impartially distributed its 

At this conference, with a view to secure church 
property permanently to the use of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, according to the true intent and 
meaning of the donors and contributors, with as little 
expense as possible, the form of a deed of settlement 
was drawn up and inserted in the Discipline. The 
provisions of the Discipline, however, in respect to 
this deed, have been modified from time to time, so as to 
conform to the usages of law in the several states and 
territories, merely requiring deeds of trust to be so 
drawn as to " secure the premises firmly and perma- 
nently to the Methodist Episcopal Church," to be 
held in trust by a board of trustees — elected by the 
people where the laws of the states respectively so 
require, or where no such laws exist, they are to be 
appointed by the preacher in charge, or by the presid- 
ing elder of the district — for the use of the members 
of said church in the place where the property is 
located. See Dis., part ii, sec. 2. 


52 A HISTORY OF THE [1796 

As many have affirmed lhat all church property is 
owned by the annual conferences, it may be proper lo 
remark, that they have no legal claim to the property, 
nor have they sought, nor do they seek, any other con- 
trol over it than to be permitted " to preach and ex 
pound God's word" in the churches, and to administer 
the discipline and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus 
Christ. As to the property itself, it is vested in a 
board of trustees, elected according to the provisions 
of law, where such law exists, who are held respon- 
sible as Methodists to the quarterly meeting confer- 
ence of their circuit for the manner in which they dis- 
charge their trusts ; while the conferences claim the 
right of using the houses of worship, in conformity to 
the object for which they were erected, for religious 
and spiritual purposes only, according to the requisi- 
tions of the doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. It is true, the trustees are not 
permitted to alienate the property for other purposes 
than those for which it was procured, nor are they 
permitted to exclude from the pulpits those ministers 
who are regularly sent lo them according to -the regu- 
lations of the Church to which they belong. And is 
not this as it should be ? Should not church property 
be held sacredly for the sole purposes to which it has 
been devoted, and which were specified in the deed of 
settlement when it was enfeoffed to the church ? 

These remarks have been called for by the oft- 
repeated and oft-refuted slander, that the Methodist 
bishops and conferences are the legal owners of the 
houses of worship which are occupied within our 
bounds. The property belongs to the members of the 
church worshiping in that, place, and they have com- 


mitted it to trustees, generally of their own choosing, 
for safe keeping, that it may be used for the exclusive 
purpose for which it was procured, namely, to be de- 
voted in perpetuity to the interests of true religion, 
as now taught, explained, and enforced by the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church. 

We have already seen that our economy recognizes 
a class of laborers denominated local preachers, who 
attend to secular concerns for a livelihood, and 
preach occasionally without fee or reward, as their dis- 
positions and circumstances will allow. The number 
of these had become considerably increased in conse- 
quence of the numerous locations before noticed, as 
well by licensing those who were thought to pos- 
sess gifts and grace for usefulness in the Church. 
This useful class of men were often called upon to 
assist the traveling preachers in their work, to fill va- 
cancies occasioned by sickness or death, in addition to 
their regular appointments on the Sabbath. In con- 
sequence of these things, the present General Confer- 
ence made the following provisions respecting a local 
preacher : — 

1. He must receive a license, after being examined 
and approved, from the quarterly meeting conference, 
provided he be recommended by the class to which he 

2. After improving his gifts acceptably for four 
years, by being suitably recommended to an annual 
conference, he was to be eligible to the office of a 

3. Whenever a local preacher filled the place of 
a traveling preacher, if the latter were unable from 
sickness or other unavoidable means to fill his own 


54 A HISTORY OF THE [1796. 

appointments, he was to be allowed a sum in proportion 
to the allowance of the traveling preacher, to be raised 
by the circuit ; or if the traveling preacher were ab- 
sent from other causes, his substitute was to be paid 
out of his allowance. 

4. But if the local preacher were distressed in his 
circumstances, in consequence of his services in the 
Church, by applying to the quarterly conference, he 
might receive such relief as they might see proper to 
afford him, after the allowance of the traveling preach- 
ers and their families were paid. 

5. A rule was made for the trial of a local preacher 
before his peers, differing but little from the one now 
in existence, which, as the regulations respecting 
them have been modified from time to time, I shall 
notice more particularly in another place. Before 
this rule was passed, local preachers had been tried 
before the society to which they belonged, the same 
as if they were but private members. Since this 
period, however, they have been amenable either to 
those of their own grade in the ministry or to the 
quarterly meeting conference. 

The following rule respecting the use and sale of 
spiritous liquors was made, and still continues, unhap- 
pily, the standing regulation on this subject : — 

" If any member of our society retail or give spiritous 
liquors, and any thing disorderly be transacted under his 
roof on this account, the preacher who has the oversight 
of the circuit shall proceed against him as in the case of 
other immoralities ; and the person accused shall be clear- 
ed, suspended; or excluded, according to his conduct, as 
on other charges of immorality." 

By turning to the form of Discipline published in 


1789, which is said to be the fifth edition, we find the 
following item in the General Rules : — 

" Drunkenness, buying or selling spirituous liquors, 
or drinking them." 

This was an alteration from the rule of Mr. Wes- 
ley, as that allowed the use of them in cases of 

' extreme necessity," — whereas this prohibits all use 
of them, as a drink, and even forbids the " buying or 
selling" them under any circumstances. At what 
time or by whose influence the rule was so altered as 
to read as it now stands in the Discipline, I have not 
been able to ascertain, but presume it must have 
been some time prior to the year 1796, as it seems 
the pernicious custom of retailing them had become 
so offensive at this time as to require a special enact- 
ment of the General Conference to check the unhal- 
lowed practice ; for when people begin to make laws 
with a view to regulate any particular practice, it is 
an evidence that the practice itself is, in some sense, 
sanctioned. It is to be hoped that the time is not far 
distant when the entire use of spirituous liquors shall 
be banished from the world, but more especially 
from the church of God : and that to traffic in them, 
by either manufacturing, buying or selling them, shall 
be considered as dishonorable, as it is now to become 
inebriated by their excessive use. 

In consequence of the extension of the work, the fre- 
quent interruptions in the health of Bishop Asbury, and 
the long absence of Dr. Coke from the continent every 
year, it was considered expedient by many members to 
elect and consecrate some person as an assistant bishop. 
After consulting each other in reference to the man- 
ner in which the person should be elected, Dr. Coke 




put an end to the discussion by offering himself unre- 
servedly to the American Methodists. This offer was 
accepted by the conference, and Dr. Coke gave them 
the following certificate in writing : — ■ 

" I offer myself to my American brethren entirely to 
their service, all I am and have, with my talents and labors 
in every respect, without any mental reservation whatever, 
to labor among them and to assist Bishop Asbury ; not to 
station the preachers at any time when he is present ; but 
to exercise all the episcopal duties, when I hold a confer- 
ence in his absence, and by his consent, and to visit the 
West Indies and France, when there is an opening and I 
can be spared. Signed, Thomas Coke." 

" Conference Room, Baltimore, Oct. 21, 1796." 

This instrument was given and accepted in good 
faith, and the obligation was sacredly fulfilled on the 
part of Dr. Coke, until he was honorably released 
from it by his American brethren. In pursuance of 
this engagement, Dr. Coke continued on the American 
continent as the " friend and colleague" of Bishop As- 
bury, laboring with great acceptance and usefulness 
among the people in different parts of the country, 
until the 6th of February, when he took his departure 
from Charleston, South Carolina, for Europe. Hav- 
ing a very tempestuous passage, the ship suffered se- 
verely, and though they arrived in the Irish channel in 
twenty-five days, they were there becalmed nearly 
sixteen days, during which time the following curious 
incident occurred, which shows the superstition to 
which seamen, otherwise intelligent, are often sub- 

During the calm Dr. Coke improved his time in 


reading a large folio volume. " At length," says his 
biographer, " being impelled more violently by a tide 
of superstition, than his vessel was by natural breezes, 
the captain exclaimed in unequivocal terms, 'We 
shall never have a wind until that book is finished.' 
' Sir, I will put it aside,' replied Dr. Coke. ' No,' 
rejoined the captain, ' that will not do ; it must be 
finished, or we shall have no wind.' Dr. Coke con- 
tinued reading, and ' I doubt not,' he observes, ' that 
the captain was somewhat confirmed in his opinion ; 
for just as I had finished the book, the wind sprung 
up, and in six and thirty hours brought us into the 

> » 

Having finished the labors of this conference, 
Bishop Asbury expressing his gladness that the ses- 
sion was over, went to his accustomed work, and the 
preachers to their respective fields of labor, being " de- 
termined to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him 


From the close of the General Conference in 1796, to the commence- 
ment of the General Conference in 1800. 

1797. There were six annual conferences held 
this year, one of which was in Wilbraham, Mas- 
sachusetts, the seventh that was held in New-England. 
Three new circuits were returned on the minutes, 
namely, Pleasant River, in Maine ; Sandwich, and 
Martha's Vineyard, in Massachusetts. This latter 
circuit included the island by that name belonging to 
the state of Massachusetts, about twenty-one miles in 

3* 2 

58 A HISTORV OF THE [1797 

length, and was once the scene of missionary labors 
by some of our Puritan ancestors, who devoted them- 
selves to the conversion of the aborigines of the coun- 
try. But the fruit of these labors, though they 
abounded for a season, had long since disappeared ; 
and among the white inhabitants who had taken their 
place, a few only welcomed the coming of a Metho- 
dist preacher; for we find that in 1798 no more 
than thirteen members of the Church are credited to 
Martha's Vineyard. 

Though Bishop Asbury began the year with his 
wonted diligence, and set off upon his annual tour of 
the continent, yet his physical strength was not equal 
to the task, and he was compelled to yield, though 
with great reluctance, to the necessity of employing a 
substitute to preside in the conferences. He, how- 
ever, in company with Dr. Coke, rode through seve- 
ral of the southern states until the doctor left the con- 
tinent for Ireland. The following remark shows the 
intimate and endeared friendship which subsisted be- 
tween these two servants of God. Speaking of the 
doctor's departure, he says, " Strangers to the deli- 
cacies of Christian friendship know little or nothing 
of the pain of parting." After spending some time in 
Charleston, in consequence of his great debility, 
during which, however, he was busy in setting things 
in order, preaching when able, and assisting them in 
building another house of worship, he set off on his 
western tour. " On my way," he says, " I felt as if 
I was out of prison. Hail ! ye solitary pines ! the 
jessamine, the red-bud, and the dog-wood ! How 
charming in full bloom ! the former a most fragrant 
smell." He succeeded in crossing the Cumberland 


Mountains in the state of Tennessee, but. such were 
his bodily afflictions, that, through the advice and per- 
suasions of his friends, he relinquished his intention of 
visiting the Kentucky conference, and made his way 
back as he was able to endure the fatigue of traveling, 
to the city of Baltimore. While in the state of Vir- 
ginia, he made the following reflections : — 

" My fever left me, as I thought, from Monday until 
Friday night. I am kept cheerful, but very weak. My 
diet is chiefly tea, potatoes, Indian meal gruel, and chicken 
broth. My reading is only the Bible. I cannot think 
rflueh, and write only a few letters. I think of my charge, 
of the conferences, and the Church, and of my dear pa- 
rents, who will probably outlive me.* I must be made 
perfect through sufferings. I rest in rainy weather, 
and have to ride from eighty to one hundred miles in a 
week. The way we now go we have sometimes to ride 
thirty miles to get to a house." — " I have traveled about 
six hundred miles with an inflammatory fever, and a fixed 
pain in my breast." 

In this state of pain and weakness did this holy 
man of God pursue his work, through the various 
sections of our country, for the sole purpose of build- 
ing up the Redeemer's kingdom. On the tenth of 
June he arrived in Baltimore, where he had every 
attention paid to him which Christian love and esteem 
could devise ; and not with standing his physical suf- 
ferings, he employed his time, so far as his feeble 
health would allow, in preaching occasionally to the 

* In this he was under a mistake, as he lived to pay a me- 
rited token of respect to both his parents on occasion of their 

60 A HISTORY OF THE [1797. 

people, visiting the classes, and in organizing an Afri- 
can Church. By a suitable attention to medical ad- 
vice, and the nursing care of his affectionate friends, 
he soon so far recruited as to be able to resume his 
itinerant labors. Accordingly we find him on his 
northern course passing through Pennsylvania and 
New- Jersey, (stopping long enough in the most import- 
ant places to preach and meet the classes,) to New- 
York, and thence he went on his way with an inten- 
tion to meet the conference at Wilbraham in Massa- 
chusetts ; but his fever increasing, he was obliged to 
stop at Tuckehoe, at the house of Bishop Sherwood, 
where he was treated with great kindness. While 
here he makes the following reflections, which show 
the feelings of a sensitive heart, struggling under the 
burdensome cares of a superintendent of the Church, 
of an obedient and affectionate son, still panting for an 
enlarged sphere of usefulness in the world : — 

" The kindness of this Sherwood family is great ; my 
dear mamma, and Betsy Sherwood, and Jonathan and 
Bishop also : if I had not been at home here, what addi- 
tional distress of mind would have attended me ! my 
friends also were welcome to come and see me. Sabbath 
day, at the widow Sherwood's, I had the pleasure of hear- 
ing our brother Matthias make a pointed, profitable, and 
powerful discourse. It is now eight weeks since I have 
preached— awfully dumb Sabbaths ! I have been most se- 
verely tried from various quarters ; my fevers, my feet, and 
Satan, would set in with my gloomy and nervous affections. 
Sometimes subject to the greatest effeminacy ; to distress 
at the thought of a useless, idle ]if e : but what brought the 
heavy pang into my heart, and the big tear to roll, that 
never rises without a cause, was the thought of leaving the 


connection without some proper men of their own election, 
to go in and out before them in my place, and to keep that 
order which I have been seeking these many years to es- 
tablish. My aged parents were dear to me in their ad- 
vanced age and dependent state : like myself, they have 
spent what they had to spare for many years, nearly forty, 
in keeping open doors for the gospel and people of God : 
this burden hath been laid upon them. I am happy that I 
can now ride a little every clear day for my better health, 
and can eat and sleep better. I am left too much alone : I 
cannot sit in my room all day making gloomy reflections 
on the past, present, and future life. Lord help me ! for I 
ajn poor and needy ; the hand of God hath touched me, 
and I think Satan forts himself in my melancholy, unem- 
ployed, unsocial, and inactive hours." 

While the bishop was thus providentially hindered 
irom attending the conference in Wilbraham, it was 
some consolation to him to know that there were 
those in the Church who could supply his place, 
without material detriment to the cause. He accord- 
ingly wrote to Jesse Lee, requesting him to attend 
the conference in Wilbraham, which he did, and the 
conference made choice of him to preside over their 
deliberations. This duty he discharged to their en- 
tire satisfaction, doing all the business of an annual 
conference except the ordinations. Afterward, at the 
request of the bishop, and on the recommendation of 
that conference, Mr. Lee left New-England and ac- 
companied Bishop Asbury, with a view to aid him in 
his peculiar work, to some of the more southern con- 
ferences. After attending the Virginia conference to- 
gether, the bishop, at the request of the conference, 
stopped to recruit his strength, now much wasted by 


62 A HISTORY OF THE [1797. 

sickness and fatigue, and Mr. Lee went on to attend 
the more southern conferences. 

This year the city of Philadelphia was severely 
visited by an epidemical disease which hurried into 
eternity thousands of its citizens, and induced thousands 
of others to flee for safely into the country. On this 
account the conference which was to have set in that 
city was removed to Duck Creek, in the state of De- 

The number of locations still continued to embar- 
rass the itinerancy, as not less than forty-three were 
returned this year " under a location through weak- 
ness of body and family concerns." How much 
more mighty in strength and comely in beauty 
would have been the Methodist Episcopal Church 
had she used the proper means to retain in her itine- 
rant service all those men of God ! Youth and inex- 
perience were often called in to supply the lack of 
service occasioned by these premature departures 
from the regular work. 

While the increase, though comparatively small 
among the members, shows the good effects resulting 
from a united effort to spread the knowledge of God 
our Saviour, the decrease in the number of preachers, 
as will be seen below, evinces a lamentable defect 
in securing the continued labors of all those who had 
entered the itinerating ranks. 

Two preachers, namely, John Ragan and Albert 
Van Nostrand, closed their labors and life this year in 
peace, and went to their reward in glory. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Last, year and this, in the recapitulation of the 




numbers, I find them taken by states 

; and that the 

reader may see the relative strength of Methodism in 

the several states of the 

Union, I give 

them as they 

stand in the minutes for 1797. 



Province of Maine 







Rhode Island 






New- York 


















North Carolina 



South Carolina 






















Last year 



Increase 1,999 Dec. 31 

It will be seen by the above enumeration, that 
ihere were upward of twelve thousand people of co- 
lor attached to the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


64 A HISTORY OF THE [1797. 

These were chiefly in the southern states, and had 
been gathered principally from the slave population 

At an early period of the Methodist ministry in 
this country, it had turned its attention and directed 
its efforts toward these people, with a view to bring 
them to the enjoyment of gospel blessings. The 
preachers deplored, with the deepest sympathy, their 
unhappy condition, especially their enslavement to sin 
and Satan ; and while they labored unsuccessfully by 
all prudent means to effect their disenthralment from 
their civil bondage, they were amply rewarded for 
their evangelical efforts to raise them from their moral 
degradation, by seeing thousands of them happily 
converted to God. These efforts added much to the 
labor of the preachers, for such was the condition of 
the slaves that they were not permitted, on working 
days, to attend the public administration of the word 
in company with their masters ; and hence the 
preachers devoted the evenings to their instruction, 
after the customary labors of the day were closed. 
And although at first there was much aversion mani 
fested by the masters toward these benevolent efforts 
to elevate the condition of their slaves, yet witnessing 
the beneficial effects of the gospel upon their hearts 
and lives, they gradually yielded their prejudices, and 
encouraged the preachers in their labors, assisted in 
providing houses to accommodate them in their wor 
ship, and otherwise protected them in their religious 
privileges. While, therefore, the voice of the preach- 
ers was not heard in favor of emancipation from their 
civil bondage, nor their remonstrances against the 
evils of slavery heeded, the voice of truth addressed to 
the understandings and consciences of the slaves 


themselves, was often heard with believing and obedi- 
ent hearts, and made instrumental in their deliverance 
from the shackles of sin and the bondage of Satan. 
Those who were thus redeemed were enrolled among 
the people of God, and were consequently entitled to 
the privileges of the Church of Christ. In some of 
the northern cities, houses of worship were erected for 
their special and separate accommodation, and they 
were put under the pastoral charge of a white preacher, 
who was generally assisted by such colored local 
preachers as may have been raised up among them 
selves ; for many such, from time to time, possessing 
gifts for edification, were licensed to preach the gos- 
pel to their colored brethren, and some of these have 
been eminently useful. In the more southern states, 
where the municipal regulations in respect to the 
slaves are more severe, some portion of the churches 
where the white population assemble is usually set 
apart for the blacks. Their behavior has generally 
been such as to insure the confidence of their masters 
and the protection of their civil rulers, though they 
labored under the disabilities incident to a state of ser- 

This year, ten months from the time the former 
house was consumed by fire, on the 19th of October, 
the new church in Light-street, in the city of Balti- 
more, was consecrated to the service of almighty 

1798. There were seven conferences this year, so 

arranged that the bishops might begin their labors in 

the southern states in the winter season, and travel 

on north in ihe spring and summer months. One of 

h Q se conferences was held in Readfield, in the pro- 


66 A HISTORY OF THE [1798. 

vince of Maine, for the accommodation of that part of 
the work. 

Chenango, in the western part of New-York, Ver- 
gennes, in Vermont, and Providence, in Rhode Island, 
were added to the list of circuits. The western sec- 
tion of the state of New- York was, at this time, a new 
country, just filling up with inhabitants, and was 
generally destitute of the word and ordinances ,of 
Christianity. To supply them with these several 
young men, full of zeal for the cause of God, were 
sent into this newly settled country, under the care of 
the Rev. F. Garrettson, to whom the charge of the 
Albany district was confided. As early as 1792, 
Mr. Garrettson had travelled through various parts of 
this new country, preaching to the people in their log 
houses, in barns, and often holding his quarterly meet- 
ings under the foliage of the trees. Aided as he was 
by those zealous and indefatigable young preachers 
who entered this field of labor, he was instrumental 
in extending the gospel and its attendant bless- 
ings into these destitute places ; by these means 
those societies were established, which have continued 
to flourish and increase to the present time. Along 
the Mohawk river, as far as Ulica, as well as the 
Chenango and Susquehanna rivers, those pioneers of 
Methodism penetrated, and laid the foundation for 
those extensive revivals of religion which have blessed 
that region of country. We may form some judg- 
ment of the good effects of these labors and sacrifices 
from the fact that there were returned in the minutes 
for this year, including the Tioga, Wyoming, Sara- 
toga, and Seneca circuits, 892 members of the Church. 
Had equal zeal been manifested at this early period 


in building suitable houses of worship, as the work 
enlarged with the progress of the settlements, Me- 
thodism would have taken a stand here more firmly, 
and have exerted a much more hallowed and exten- 
sive influence over the population. As it was, how- 
ever, the permanency of the work has been manifested 
by its steady growth and leavening effects on that flou- 
rishing part of the country ; and more latterly the defect 
alluded to has been in a great measure remedied by 
the zeal and industry of those enlightened men to 
whom the oversight of the work has been committed. 
A gradual extension of the cause was witnessed 
generally throughout our bounds, and much harmony 
and peace prevailed among preachers and people. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year, 47,867 12,302 60,169 267 

Last year, 46,445 12,218 58,663 262 

Increase, 1,422 84 1,506 5 

During the prevalence of the yellow fever in the 
city of Philadelphia this year, many estimable citizens 
were swept from time to eternity, and among others 
that eminent preacher of the gospel, John Dickins, 
whose useful services in the Church entitle him to a 
more special and lengthened notice than what has 
been given to some others. 

He was a native of Great Britain, born and educat- 
ed in the city of London. At what time he emigrated 
to this country is not stated ; but it appears that in 
1774 he was made a partaker of divine grace, and 
united himself to the Methodist society in Virginia. 
In 1777 he was admitted into the traveling ministry, 


68 A HISTORY OF THE [1798. 

and itinerated extensively through Virginia and North 
Carolina in the time of the revolutionary war. 
For some cause he located in 1781, but two years 
after was readmitted into the conference, and was 
stationed in the city of New- York, where he labored 
for several years acceptably and usefully. When the 
Book. Room was established in the city of Philadel- 
phia in 17S9, he was appointed to its superintend- 
ence, and he managed its concerns with great skill 
and fidelity until his demise. For this station he was 
eminently qualified, not only on account of his strict 
fidelity, his theological attainments, and thorough ac- 
quaintance with the economy of Methodism, but also 
from his literary acquirements. His knowledge of 
the sciences was considerable, and besides his own 
language, he was familiar with the Latin and Greek. 
And, though not brilliant in his conceptions nor splen- 
did as a preacher, he was of sound judgment, a close 
and conclusive reasoner, a plain, pointed, and success- 
ful preacher, always adapting, as nearly as might be, 
his discourses to the condition and circumstances of 
his hearei-s. As an evidence of the soundness of his 
■views as a divine, may be mentioned the fact that the 
" Short Scriptural Catechism," which has been published 
for many years at our Book Room, was the produc- 
tion of his pen. And whatever may be said in be- 
half of others which have been since issued from the 
press, this is among the most excellent of them all, 
and should never be superseded by those of less 
intrinsic merit. It contains in fact a body of 
divinity in a few words, selected from the Holy 
Scriptures, arranged in due order, in the very phrase- 
ology in " which the Holy Ghost teacheth." 


-The accuracy and fidelity with which he discharged 
his duties as an editor, and also as a financier and 
book-keeper — for in each of these capacities did he 
serve while superintending the Book Concern in Phi 
ladelphia — may be seen and appreciated by an inspec- 
tion of the books of the establishment, by a recurrence 
to the manner in which it prospered in his hands, 
and the typographical correctness with which the 
books were executed. 

In the relations of husband and parent he sustained 
the purity and dignity of his station, mixing in all his 
deportment the tenderness of the warmest affection 
with the attributes essential to maintain his authority 
as the head of a family. In the relation of a father 
ever attentive to the best interests of his children, he 
devoted himself to their education, to training their 
minds to moral and religious duties, and to restraining 
them from those vices which corrupt the mind, and 
lay the foundation for present and future misery. 

The state of his mind may be seen by the follow- 
ing extract of a letter which he wrote to Bishop As- 
bury a short time before his death. The reader will 
recollect that the yellow fever was then raging in Phi- 
ladelphia with awful and destructive violence, sweep- 
ing into eternity thousands of his fellow-beings, while 
others, to escape from this devouring plague, were 
flying- into various parts of the country- Notwith- 
standing these alarming aspects in the heavens and 
the earth around him, John Dickins remained, as a 
faithful sentinel, at his post, giving warning to the 
impenitent, and counsel and consolation to the trem- 
bling and dying believer. In the midst of these things, 
he says to Bishop Asbury 


70 A HISTORY OF THE [1798. 

" My much-esteemed Friend and Brother : — I sit down 
to write as in the jaws of death. Whether Providence 
may permit me to see your face again in the flesh I know 
not ; but if not, I hope, through abundant mercy, we shall 
meet in the presence of God. I am truly conscious that 
I am an unprofitable, a very unprofitable servant ; but I 
think my heart condemns me not, and therefore I have 
confidence in God. Perhaps I might have left the city, as 
most of my friends and brethren have done ; but when I 
thought of such a thing, my mind recurred to that Provi- 
dence which has done so much for me, a poor worm, that 
I was afraid of indulging any distrust. So I commit my- 
self and family into the hands of God, for life or death." 

Soon after writing the above, he was seized with 
the raging epidemic, and on the 27th of September, 
1798, he took his departure to a better world, in the 
fifty-second year of his age. During his sickness, 
which he contracted while visiting the abodes of 
wretchedness and administering the consolations of 
the gospel to the dying, he was saved from those awful 
agitations of body and mind which are usually the 
accompaniments of this fatal disease, and with great 
tranquillity of mind he entered into his Master's joy. 
From the testimony of his bereaved widow it appears 
that he said to her, on the first day of his illness, — 

" I am very ill ; but I intreat you in the most earnest 
manner, not to be the least discomposed or uneasy. Tell 
the children, I beg them not to be uneasy, for divine wis- 
dom cannot err. Glory be to God ! I can rejoice in his 
will, whether for life or death. I know all is well ! Glory 
be to Jesus ! I hang upon thee. Glory be to thee, 0, my 
God ! I have made it my constant business, in my feeble 


manner, to please thee — and now, God, thou dost com- 
fort me." 

In this happy frame of mind did he meet the last 
enemy on his first approaches. Then clasping his 
hands together, he joyfully exclaimed, — 

" Glory be to God ! Glory ! Glory be to God ! My soul 
now enjoys such sweet communion with him, that I would 
not give it for all the world. Glory be to Jesus ! O, glory 
be to God ! I have not felt so much for seven years. 
Love him ! Trust him ! Praise him !" 

Bishop Asbury bears the following testimony to the 
character of Mr. Dickins : — " For piety, probity, pro- 
fitable preaching, holy living, Christian education of 
his children, secret closet prayer, I doubt whether his 
superior is to be found either in Europe or America." 

James King, and Michael H. R. Wilson, also 
finished their course and entered into their Master's 

Twelve were located ; and for the first time, four 

were returned as supernumerary preachers this year. 

These were, John Smith, Thomas Morrell, Enoch 

Mudge, and Henry Willis. 

1799. This year there were only six conferences, 
the first of which was in Charleston, S. C, January 1, 
and the last in the city of New- York, June 19, 

As John Dickins, the book steward, had gone to 
his reward, by the recommendation of the Philadel- 
phia Conference, Bishop Asbury appointed Ezekiel 
Cooper, to superintend the Book Concern, which was 
still carried on in the city of Philadelphia. 

This year was distinguished by several revivals of 


72 A HISTORY OF THE [1799. 

religion. In Upper Canada a gracious revival had 
commenced in 1797, chiefly through the instrument- 
ality of Calvin Wooster, whose fervency of spirit led 
him forth in the work of reformation in a most remark- 
able manner, and with singular success. In company 
with Samuel Coate, he volunteered his services as a 
missionary to this distant field of labor, and after en- 
duringalmost incredible hardships on their way, forthey 
lodged no less than twenty-one nights in the wilder- 
ness, they arrived in safety just in time to attend a 
quarterly meeting on the Bay of Quinte circuit. 
After the preaching on Saturday, while the presiding 
elder, Darius Dunham, retired with the official bre- 
thren to hold the quarterly meeting conference, brother 
Wooster remained in the meeting to pray with some 
who were under awakenings, and others who were 
groaning for full redemption in the blood of Christ. 
While uniting with his brethren in this exercise, the 
power of the Most High seemed to overshadow the 
congregation, and many were filled with joy unspeak- 
able, and were praising the Lord aloud for what he 
had done for their souls, while others " with speech- 
less awe, and silent love," were prostrate on the 
floor. When the presiding elder came into the house, 
he beheld these things with a mixture of wonder and 
indignation, believing that " wild-fire" was burning 
among the people. After gazing for a while with 
silent astonishment, he kneeled down and began to 
pray to God to stop the "raging of the wild-fire," as he 
called it. In the meantime, Calvin Wooster, whose 
soul was burning with the " fire of the Holy Spirit," 
kneeled by the side of brother Dunham, and while the 
latter was earnestly engaged in prayer for God to put 


eut the wild-fire, Wooster softly whispered out a 
prayer in the following words, " Lord, bless brother 
Dunham ! Lord, bless brother Dunham !" Thus thev 
continued for some minutes^-when, at length, the 
prayer of brother Wooster prevailed, and Dunham fell 
prostrate on the floor — and ere he arose received a 
baptism of that very fire which he had so feelingly 
deprecated as the effect of a wild imagination. There 
was now harmony in their prayers, feelings, and views; 
and this was the commencement of a revival of reli- 
gion which soon spread through the entire province ; 
for as brother Dunham was the presiding elder, he was 
instrumental in spreading the sacred flame throughout 
the district, to the joy and salvation of hundreds of 
immortal souls. 

Calvin Wooster was a man of mighty prayer and 
faith. Frequently was his voice heard, by the fami- 
lies where he lodged, in the night season, when rising 
from his bed while others slept, he would pour out the 
desire of his soul to God, in earnest prayer for the 
salvation of souls. Such, indeed, was the strength 
of his faith in God, and the fervency of his spirit, as 
well as the bold and pointed manner of his appeals to 
the consciences of his hearers, and particularly to the 
wicked, that few of these could stand before him — 
they would either flee from the house, or, smitten with 
conviction, fall down and cry aloud for mercy — 
while, in the midst of these exercises, the saints of 
God were shouting forth his praises. 

Nor was he alone in this work. The other 
preachers caught the flame of divine love, and were 
carried forward under its sacred impulses in their 
Master's work. Many instances of the manifestations 

Vol. II.— 4 

74 A HISTORY OF THE [1799 

of divine power and grace might be narrated, which, 
go to illustrate the authority by which these men of 
God spoke in his name ; one of which I will relate. 

At a quarterly meeting in the Bay of Quinte cir- 
cuit, as the preacher commenced his sermon, a 
thoughtless man in the front gallery, commenced, m a 
playful mood, to swear profanely, and otherwise to 
disturb the congregation. The preacher paid no at- 
tention to him until he was in the midst of of his ser- 
mon, when, feeling strong in faith and the power of 
His might, suddenly stopping, he fixed his piercing eye 
upon the profane man, then stamping with his foot, 
and pointing his finger at him with great energy, he 
cried out, " My God I smite him /" He instantly fell, 
as if shot through the heart with a bullet. At this 
moment such a divine afflatus came down upon the 
congregation, that sinners were crying to God for 
mercy in every direction, while the saints of God 
burst forth in loud praises to his name. Similar in- 
stances of God's gracious presence were not uncom- 
mon in those days in that country, as they have been 
related to the writer on the most unquestionable 
authority. Indeed, this great work may be said to have 
been, in some sense, the beginning of that great revival 
of religion which soon after spread through various 
parts of the United States. 

The doctrine more especially urged upon believers 
was that of sanctification, or holiness of heart and 
life, — a complete surrender of the soul and body, all 
their powers and affections, to the service of God— and 
this was pressed upon them as their present privilege, 
depending for its accomplishment now on the faith- 
fulness of God, who had promised to do it. It was 


this baptism of the Holy Ghost which fired and filled 
the hearts of God's ministers at that time, and which 
enabled them so to speak that the peoplejfe^ that their 
words were with " demonstration and power," and they 
could not well resist the influence of those "thoughts 
which breathed," and those " words which burned." 

Nor were they less assiduous to press upon the 
unconverted the necessity of immediate and instanta- 
neous conversion, or a present justification by faith in 
Jesus Christ — warning them in the most faithful and 
affectionate manner of the imminent danger of delay- 
ing one moment to repent of their sins, and surrender 
their hearts to God. O what awful sensations ran 
through the assemblies while Calvin Wooster, and 
others of a like spirit, were denouncing the just judg- 
ments of God against impenitent sinners, in such 
pointed language as made the " ear to tingle," and the 
heart to palpitate ! Nor were they less affected 
while these men of God portrayed in such lively 
colors the beauty and amiableness of religion, tha 
ability and willingness of the Lord Jesus Christ to 
save them, and concluded by urging them, in the most 
earnest manner, and with the most affectionate and 
pathetic strain of eloquence, to accept of pardon and 
salvation without a moment's delay. 

We are not to suppose that this work went on 
without opposition. In that country there was a 
marked line of distinction " between the righteous and 
the wicked," there being but few formal professors of 
religion to interpose between the two classes. And 
such was the general state of society, that those who 
did not embrace religion felt themselves at liberty to 
manifest their hatred to its doctrines by open acts of 

76 A HISTORY OF THE [1799. 

hostility, by scurrilous speeches, and in some in- 
stances by personal violence. But in the midst 
of the obloquy and reproach heaped upon the 
servants of God, they held on their way, boldly pro- 
claiming the sacred truths of the gospel ; and, not 
unfrequently, some of the boldest opposers of the 
truth no sooner came within its hearing, than they 
were forced to yield to its authority, when they will- 
ingly bowed their necks to the yoke of Jesus Christ. 
One instance among many others I will relate. A stout 
opposer of the Methodists, hearing that his wife was 
in a prayer-meeting, rushed violently into the room, 
seized his wife, and dragged her to the door, when, 
attempting to open it, he was himself seized with 
trembling, his knees failed him, and he fell helpless 
upon the floor, and was fain to beg an interest in the 
prayers of those very people whom he had so much 
despised and persecuted. He rose not until the Lord 
released him from his sins and made him a partaker 
of his pardoning mercy. This very man afterward 
became an itinerant minister, with whom I was per- 
sonally acquainted, and had the relation of these facts 
from his own lips. 

All, however, were not so fortunate. The Rev. 
James Coleman, calling to visit a woman under con- 
viction for sin, while talking with her, was assailed 
by her husband, who struck him on the forehead so 
violently, that he carried the mark for a considerable 
time ; and then, to add to the enormity of the offence, 
raised the scandalous report that Mr. Coleman was 
holding improper discourse with his wife, which, indeed, 
was believed by many, until the real cause was reveal- 
ed, namely, the man's hatred to true religion. 


This seems a suitable place to notice the introduc- 
tion of Methodism into the state of Ohio, which was 
received into the Union in 1802. It is said that the 
first settlement in Ohio was commenced in the town 
of Marietta in 1788, by emigrants from Massachu- 
setts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. What is called 
the " Western Reserve," was chiefly settled by per- 
sons from Connecticut, who purchased the lands of 
that state about eight years after the first settlement 
was made. Like all the other new territories in our 
western wilderness, the settlers were at first des- 
titute of the ordinances of religion, though many of 
those who removed to Ohio carried their Bibles with 
them, and retained the religious impressions which 
they had received at home. 

It seems that about the year 1796, Francis 
M^Cormick, a local preacher, emigrated from Virginia, 
first to Kentucky, but not liking his situation, removed 
to what was then called the North-western Territory, 
now Ohio, and settled on the Little Miami, near 
where the town of Milford now stands. Having no 
associates Hke-miTided with himself, he went to work 
in the name of the Lord, and was instrumental in 
forming a class of ten members, including himself 
and the members of his family. Being encouraged 
by this' success, he began holding meetings wherever 
he could gain access to the people, and soon suc- 
ceeded in forming two more classes, one at brother 
Ramsey's, on the Obannon's Creek, and another at 
brother Nutt's near Columbia, each consisting of about 
ten members. In these labors, though much opposed 
by the thoughtless and some bigoted professors of 
re]'V'-»n, he enjoyed much of the presence of the Lord, 


78 A HISTORY OF THE [1799. 

and often rejoiced over returning prodigals to their 
Father's house. 

Being attached to the itinerant plan of preaching 
the gospel, Mr. M'Cormick made several attempts to 
procure a regular preacher, but could not succeed, be- 
cause there were not preachers enougli to supply the 
circuits already formed and forming in Kentucky and 
Tennessee, and at the same time to answer his call. 
At length he was joined in his labors by Philip Gatch, 
who was among the first Methodist preachers raised 
up in America, for his name appears in the minutes 
as an assistant in 1774, and was stationed at that 
lime on Frederick circuit in Maryland, his native 
state. He was now a local preacher — having desist- 
ed from traveling in 1778 — and moving into this 
new country, became an efficient agent in build- 
ing up the cause of God. They were soon after 
joined by some other pious families from various 
parts of the older states; and in 1799 they were 
visited by the Rev. John Kobler, from the Hinkstone 
circuit, in Kentucky. In company with brother 
M'Cormick, he traveled up the Litffe Miami to the 
Mad river, as far as there were any settlements, 
and then down the Great Miami river. They met 
with some opposition from a few bigoted professors 
of religion, with whom they disagreed on some doc- 
trinal points, but in general the people appeared ripe 
for the gospel ; and thus these visits laid the founda 
tion for that nourishing state of Methodism which has 
since been witnessed in this thriving part of our 
country. They were soon after regularly supplied 
with preaching, and though the inhabitants, from 
their ignorance of the real character and motives of 


the preachers who came among them, seemed at first 
afraid to receive them into their houses or to hear 
them preach, yet they gradually succeeded in gaining 
their attention and confidence, and in bringing many 
of them from " darkness into the marvelous light of, 
the gospel." 

In 1803, John Collins, a local preacher from 
New- Jersey, settled on the east fork of the Little 
Miami : his labors were greatly blessed among the 
people, and through his instrumentality several young 
preachers were raised up for the itinerancy, who 
became eminently useful. In 1807 brother Collins 
joined the traveling ministry, and has continued his 
useful laboi-s to the present time. Through his and 
the labors of others who united with him in this 
work, circuits were formed, and societies established 
in that part of Ohio along the banks of the Great and 
Little Miami rivers, Mad River, Cesar's Creek, in 
Urbana and Xenia, Derby and Paint Creeks, so 
that in 1807 an annual conference was held in Chilli- 
cothe, at which time there were in the Ohio district 
3883 members, and 17 preachers. 

In the Western Reserve, Methodism is about co- 
eval with the earliest settlement of the country. The 
first society was formed in Deerfield, in 1801, by a 
few persons who had emigrated from Massachusetts, 
namely, Lewis Day, Lewis Ely, their families, and a 
few others. The next year a society was formed, in 
the town of Hubbard, at George Frazier's, an emigrant 
from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In the same year, 
Henry Shaul, an exhorter, and afterward a local preacher, 
removed from Georgetown, Pa., having previously tra- 
veled nearly forty miles through the woods to visit the 


80 A HISTORY OF THE [1799. 

brethren in that place, and settled in the town of 
Deerfteld. About the same time William Veach and 
Amos Smith, local preachers, settled in Hubbard, and 
helped to build up the society ; and Obed Crosby, a 
local preacher, established himself in the town of 
Vernon. These opened the way for the introduction 
of Methodism in the Western Reserve. 

In 1803, Shadrach Boshuick, who had been a 
travelling preacher for several years in the eastern 
conferences, was stationed as a missionary at Deer- 
field, which was at that time connected with the Bal- 
timore conference. He was the first regular preacher 
sent to the Western Reserve, and he succeeded in 
forming a small circuit among the new settlements, 
which he traveled by following Indian trails and 
marked trees, from one little settlement to another, 
and at the next conference he returned sixteen Church 
members. For want of roads and bridges, he was 
compelled to desist from traveling in the winter 
months. He continued his labors until 1805, when 
he located, and the few appointments he had secured 
were connected with the Erie circuit, then under the 
charge of David Best and Joseph A. Shackleford. In 
this way the work commenced in this section of the 
state of Ohio, and it has continued from that day to 
this gradually and sometimes powerfully to advance, 
keeping an even pace with the progress of the settle- 
ments and the improvements of society. 

In many other parts of the country the work of God 
greatly prospered. The delightful harmony which 
prevailed among preachers and people, and the efforts 
which were made to extend the blessings of the 
gospel into the new settlements, east, west, north, and 


south, gave a vigorous impulse to the general cause, 
and became a means of bringing hundreds into the 
fold of Christ. 

In the month of January of this year, George 
Clark was sent to St. Mary's, in the state of Georgia. 
He found the people in general quite destitute of the 
gospel, and consequently ignorant of its requisitions, 
some having arrived to maturity without the privilege 
of ever hearing a sermon or even a prayer. He be- 
stowed his labors chiefly on the people in Glenn and 
Camden counties, and so unacquainted were they 
with Divine worship that he found it needful to teach 
them the very first elements of Christianity, even 
when they should kneel, and when sit, in time of 
public worship. His labors, however, were so sanc- 
tioned of God, that before the year closed, many of 
the people became constant hearers of the word, 
while a number of others were truly converted to God 
and thoroughly reformed in their lives. The first 
Methodist society in the town of Augusta, Ga., was 
formed in the month of December of this year under 
the labours of Stith Mead. Some time after this they 
succeeded in building a commodious house of wor 
ship, and the society has gradually enlarged its bor 
ders from that day to this. 

This year, Tobias Gibson volunteered his services 
as a missionary to Natchez, in the Mississippi Terri- 
tory. Though this territory was not received into the 
confederacy as an independent state, until the year 
1817, yet the people from several of the older states 
had emigrated into its bounds, and were forming set- 
tlements in various places along the banks of the 
Mississippi River, the chief of which, at that time, 

4* 2 

82 A HISTORY OF THE [1799. 

was the town of Natchez. Like other new settle- 
ments, they were generally destitute of religious pri- 
vileges, and in danger of being carried away in the 
stream of moral pollution. Tobias Gibson, being re- 
leased from his regular work, in consequence of ill 
health, feeling his mind drawn toward the people in 
that western country, set off to pay them a visit. 
Though he found them under the influence of different 
religious creeds, so far as any religious influence was 
felt, they received him as a messenger of God, and 
his labors were blessed to the awakening and con- 
version of souls. The report of his labors and suc- 
cess at the next conference was highly satisfactory, and 
accordingly, in 1800, his name appears on the minutes 
for Natchez, with eighty members in the church. 
He continued in this country until his death in 1804. 
Some idea may be formed of the difficulties he 
had to encounter and the privations he endured, from 
the fact, that after traveling six hundred miles, much 
of the way through the wilderness, to Cumberland 
River, taking his saddle and traveling equipage into a 
canoe, he paddled himself downthe Cumberland into the 
Ohio River, and thence into the Mississippi, a distance 
of upward of seven hundred miles more, to the town 
of Natchez. Four times he traversed the wilderness, 
a distance of six hundred miles, being conducted by 
some friendly Indians on his devious way. The 
burning love of God whicli impelled him on in this 
work, filled his mouth with persuasive arguments in 
behalf of the gospel, and made him instrumental in 
leading many a wanderer back to his Father's house. 
When so worn down by his excessive labors and ex- 
posures, as to be unable to pursue his work with his 


wonted vigor, he came to the conference, and so ear- 
nestly plead the cause in behalf of those people, that 
in 1803 another, Moses Floyd, was sent to his help, 
and by their patient and indefatigable labors in this 
newly settled country, they laid a foundation for the 
erection of that superstructure of Methodism which 
has since reared itself in those western wilds. 

No less than twenty-nine preachers located this 
year, and ten were returned supernumerary. The 
following had died : — 

John N. Jones and William Wilkerson, both of 
whom were natives of Virginia, the former having 
traveled eight, and the latter five years. They had 
been zealous and useful, and died in the Lord. 

Hezekiah Calvin Wooster also took his departure 
to another world this year. We have already seen 
something of his character in the notice we have 
taken of the work of God in Upper Canada. His 
name is "like ointment poured forth," to many in that 
country, and he used to be spoken of as an extraor- 
dinary messenger of God, sent to declare his coun- 
sels unto a fallen and rebellious world. After exert- 
ing all his powers of body and mind in beseeching 
sinners to be reconciled to God, he returned home 
with the fatal consumption fastened upon his lungs. 
But even while in this feeble state, so reduced as not 
to be able to speak above a whisper, this whisper; 
being announced to the congregation by another, was 
frequently attended by such a divine energy and unc- 
tion, that sinners would tremble and fall under the an- 
nouncement, while the people of God felt the holy 
anointing running through their souls. It is said, 
indeed, that his very countenance exhibited such 


84 A HISTORY OF THE [1799 

marks of the Divine glory that it struck conviction 
into the hearts of many who beheld it. 

" Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth." 
Though Hezekiah Calvin Wooster could not be re- 
garded as a man of more than ordinary talents as a 
preacher, yet, such was the holy fervor of his soul, 
his deep devotion to God, his burning love for the 
souls of his fellow-men, that he was the happy in- 
strument of kindling up such a fire in the hearts of 
the people, wherever he went, particularly in Upper 
Canada, that all the waters of strife and opposition 
have not been able to quench it. This testimony I 
consider due to such departed worth. The grace of 
God wrought mightily in him, and great was his 
glorying in the cross of Christ — nor did he glory in 
aught else — for he was as much distinguished for his 
humility, his deadness to self, and to self-applause, as 
he was for the fervor of his spirit, the strength of his 
faith, and the boldness and pointedness of his appeals 
to the consciences of the people. 

That he enjoyed " perfect love," was demonstrated, 
not only from the fact of his having recorded the 
time when he received this great blessing,* but 
also and more especially from the whole tenor of his 
life, his constant self-denial, his watchings and fast- 
ings, and from the " fruit of the Spirit, love, faith, 
meekness, patience, gentleness, long-suffering, and 
charity," which shone out conspicuously in all his ie- 

* The following was found among his papers afte; his 
death : — 

"Hezekiah Calvin Wooster was born May 20, 1771. 
Convicted of sin October 9, 1791. 
Born again December 1, 1791. 
Sanctified February 6, 1792.' 


portment, in the temper of his mind, and the words 
of his lips. 

It could not be expected otherwise than that such 
a man should be prepared to meet his " last enemy" 
with firmness, and to "rejoice in hope of the glory 
of God," when drawing near to the termination 
of his earthly career. Accordingly, when so exhaust- 
ed as to be scarcely able to speak, on being asked 
by his father if his confidence was still strong in the 
Lord, he answered with holy triumph, " Yes, strong ! 
strong !" And a short time before his eyes were 
closed in death, he said, " The nearer I draw to eter- 
nity, the brighter heaven shines upon me." He thus 
" fell asleep in Jesus" on the 6th of November, 1798, 
in the 28th year of his age and the fifth year of his 
ministry. Though his race was short, it was brilliant — 
its brilliancy arising not so much from the splendor 
of his talents as from the purity of his motives, the 
fidelity of his private and public life, and the holy 
and burning zeal with which he pursued his vocation 
until sickness and death put a stop to his activity. 
And when he sunk under the cloud of death, he left 
such a trail of light behind him, as shall, it is humbly 
hoped, never be extinguished. Such honor God puts 
upon those who honor him. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year, 49,115 12,236 61,351 272 

Last year, 47,867 12,302 60,169 267 

Increase, 1,248 Dec. 66 In. 1,182 

86 A HISTOKV OF THE [1800 

An Account of the General Conference of 1800. 

1800. As the oldest, manuscript journal of a Ge- 
neral Conference I have been able to find is the one 
for this year, I have been guided thus far from print- 
ed documents only, and from such facts as I have 
been able to collect from living witnesses. Hereafter 
recourse will be also had to the records of the Gene- 
ral Conference for such information as relates to the 
general affairs of the Church, and to the alterations 
or additions which may have been made from time to 
time in the rules and regulations of the Discipline. 

There were eight annual conferences held this year, 
the first beginning in Charleston, S. C, January 1, 
and the last in Lynn, Mass., on the 18th of July. 
But before we notice the extension of the work in the 
bounds of the several conferences, and in the new set- 
tlements of the western country, we will detail the 
doings of the General Conference, which was held 
from the 6th to the 20th day of May, in the city of 

By a reference to the journal of Bishop Asbury 
for the year 1799, it will be perceived that such was 
his physical debility, originating from excessive 
labors, the multiplicity of his cares, and his exposures 
to all sorts of weather, that, though he continued his 
annual tour of the continent, he was able to preach 
but seldom, and that it was with much difficulty 
he discharged his official duties at several annual con- 
ferences. In consequence of this general debility he 
entertained serious thoughts of resigning the superin- 


tendency at the ensuing General Conference, and 
accordingly wrote to several of his most judicious 
friends in reference to it, giving them information of 
his intention. So confirmed was he in the intention 
ofresigning his office, and of taking a seat on a level 
with his brethren in the conference, that he had pre- 
pared a letter to that effect, with a design to present 
it to the conference, fully believing that his bodily 
health was not adequate to the discharge of the mul- 
tifarious and important duties of a superintendent. 
When the conference convened, and the subject of the 
bishop's resignation was introduced, he informed them 
that in consequence of bodily infirmities, he had not 
been able to travel, as heretofore, on horseback, nor 
to preach as often as usual, and therefore had been 
obliged to take with him a traveling companion, that 
the appointments might be regularly filled — and 
moreover that his labors were frequently interrupted 
for want of strength to perform them regularly ; on 
which account he did not know that the conference 
were fully satisfied with the manner in which he had 
discharged his official trust. After some conversa- 
tion on these topics, the following questions and 
answers were unanimously agreed to : — 

" Question. Whereas, Mr. Asbury has signified his in- 
tention of resigning his official station in our Church on 
account of his weakness of body, what is the sense of the 
conference on this occasion? 

" Answer, 1 . The General Conference consider them- 
selves under many and great obligations to Mr. Asbury for 
the many and great services which he has rendered to this 

" 2. This conference do earnestly entreat Mr. Asbury 


88 A HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

for a continuation of his services as one of the general 
superintendents of the Methodist Episcopal Church as far 
as his strength will permit." 

This unequivocal expression of confidence and 
affection so satisfied the bishop of their unabated at- 
tachment to him, and of their approbation of his con- 
duct, that he told them in answer, notwithstanding 
his feelings led him still to decline the arduous duties 
of his office, yet, as his general health was better 
than it had been, he was willing to continue his ser- 
vices in any way the conference might think best. 
This matter being set at rest, 

The next question which arose was, whether Dr. 
Coke, who was present as one of the presidents of 
the conference, might have liberty to return to Europe 
in conformity to an earnest request of the British 
Conference to that effect. This request was founded 
on the acknowledged right which the American Con- 
ference had to the exclusive services of Dr. Coke, in 
consequence of the solemn pledge he had given them 
in the year 1796,* and which had been gratefully ac 
cepted by the American Conference. And so sacred 
was this obligation considered by Dr. Coke, and re- 
cognised by the British Conference, that he would 
not consent to a withdrawal of his services from his 
American brethren without their approbation and con- 
sent. When, however, this engagement was first 
made known to the brethren in Great Britain, they 
expressed their deep regrets that the doctor had thus 
deprived them of his valuable services, particularly in 
the missionary department of their work. Accordingly. 

* See Book IV., Chap. III. 


when he visited the continent in 1797, he brought 
with him an earnest and affectionate address from the 
British Conference to their American brethren, in 
which they urged the doctor's return to Europe with 
all -practicable speed, as his presence and influence 
among them seemed necessary to secure their peace 
and harmony, and more especially for the efficient 
prosecution of their missionary enterprise, which was 
then in its infancy. But as the engagement of Dr. 
Coke was made with the General Conference, which 
would not again assemble until 1800, no official 
action could be had in reference to this subject at that 
time. The address, however, was submitted to the 
Virginia conference, at which Dr. Coke was present, 
and the following letter from Bishop Asbury will 
show the light in which the matter was viewed by 
them, as well as the high estimation in which Dr. 
Coke was held by his brethren on both sides of the 
Atlantic : — 

Respected Fathers and Brethren : — You, in your 
brotherly kindness, were pleased to address a letter to us, 
your brethren and friends in America, expressing your dif- 
ficulties and desires concerning our beloved brother Dr. 
Coke, that he might return to Europe to heal the breach 
which designing men have been making among you, or 
prevent its threatened overflow. We have but one grand 
responsive body, which is our General Conference, and it 
was in and to this body the doctor entered his obligations 
to serve his brethren in America. No yearly conference, 
no official character dare assume to answer for that grand 
federal body. 

" By the advice of the yearly conference now sitting in 
Virginia, and the respect I bear to you, I write to inform 


90 A HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

you that in our own persons and order we consent to his 
return, and partial continuance with you, and earnestly 
pray that you may have much peace, union, and happi- 
ness together. May you find that your divisions end in a 
greater union, order, and harmony of the body, so that the 
threatened cloud may blow over, and your divisive party 
may be of as little consequence to you, as ours is to us. 

" With respect to the doctor's returning to us, I leave 
your enlarged understandings and good sense to judge. 
You will see the number of souls upon our annual minutes, 
and as men of reading, you may judge over what a vast 
continent these societies are scattered. I refer you to a 
large letter I wrote our beloved brother Bradburn on the 

" By a probable guess, we have, perhaps, from 1,000 to 
1,200 traveling and local preachers. Local preachers are 
daily rising up and coming forward with proper recommend- 
ations from their respective societies, to receive ordina- 
tion, besides the regulation and ordinations of the yearly 
conferences. From Charleston, South Carolina, where 
the conference was held, to the province of Maine, where 
another conference is to be held, there is a space of about 
1,300 miles; and we have only one worn-out superintend- 
ent, who was this day advised by the yearly conference 
to desist from preaching till next spring, on account of his 
debilitated state of body. But the situation of our affairs 
requires that he should travel about five thousand miles a 
year, through many parts unsettled, and other thinly peopled 
countries. I have now with me an assistant who does 
every thing for me he constitutionally can : but the ordain- 
ing and stationing the preachers can only be performed by 
myself in the doctor's absence. 

" We have to lament that our superintendency is so 
weak, and that it cannot constitutionally be strengthened 
till the ensuing General Conference. How I have felt 


and must feel, under such critical and important circum- 
stances, I leave you to judge. 

" To write much on the subject would be imposing on 
my own weakness and your good understanding. I speak 
as unto wise men ; judge what I say. 

" Wishing you great peace and spiritual prosperity, I 
remain your brother, your friend, your servant for Christ's 
sake, Francis Asbury." 

In conformity with the permission given in this let 
ler for his absence from America for a short season 
only, after remaining for a while and assisting Bishop 
Asbury, Dr. Coke returned to Europe, and was use- 
fully employed in visiting the societies in various 
parts of the United Kingdom, particularly in Ireland 
during a rebellion which broke out in 1798, in which 
he was successful in his attempts to shield the Me- 
thodist preachers from- all blame, — until the session of 
this General Conference, when he appeared to fulfil 
his engagements with his American brethren, or be 
honorably released. After deliberating for some time 
upon the request of the British Conference for Dr. 
Coke's return, the following resolution was concurred 
in : — 

" That in compliance with the address of the British 
Conference, to let Dr. Coke return to Europe, this Gene- 
ral Conference consent to his return, upon condition that 
he come back to America as soon as his business will 
allow, but certainly by the next General Conference " 

In accordance with the spirit of this resolution, the 
conference addressed their British brethren in the 
words following : — 

." We have considered, with the greatest attention, the 


92 A HISTORY OF THE [1800 

request you have made for the doctor's return to Europe ; 
and after revolving the subject deeply in our minds, and 
spending part of two days in debating thereon, we still feel 
an ardent desire for his continuance in America. This 
arises from the critical state of Bishop Asbury's health, the 
extension of our work, our affection for, and approbation of 
the doctor, and his probable usefulness, provided he con- 
tinue with us. We wish to detain him, as we greatly 
need his services. But the statement you have laid before 
us in your address, of the success of the West India mis- 
sions under his superintendence, the arduous attempt to 
carry the gospel among the native Irish requiring his in- 
fluence and support, and the earnest request you have 
added to this representation ; ' believing it to be for the 
glory of God,' hath turned the scale at present in your 
favor. We have, therefore, in compliance with your 
request, lent the doctor to you for a season to return to us 
as soon as he conveniently can, but at farthest by the meet- 
ing of our next General Conference. 

" Signed by order and in the behalf of the General Con- 
ference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 
United States of America, 

" Francis Asbury, 

" Richard Whatcoat. 
Baltimore, May 9, 1800." 

Having thus consented to a partial release of Dr. 
Coke from his engagements, the next important de- 
sideratum was how to supply his lack of service. 
The debilitated state of Bishop Asbury, and the great 
extension of the work in almost every direction, render- 
ed it next to impossible for him to supply the wants 
of the Church in its superintendency, or to sustain 
the interests of the itinerancy in its various departments 
of labor. After a full consideration of this subject, it 


was finally agreed that another bishop should be 
elected and consecrated at this conference. 

Before, however, the conference went into the elec- 
tion, considerable conversation was had respecting the 
powers of the new bishop, some contending that ha 
should be considered only as an assistant, and, in the 
absence of his principal, should have power to station 
the preachers, only with the advice and concurrence 
of a committee appointed by an annual conference. 
The views, however, of those prevailed who thought 
he should be every way equal in power with his senior 
in office, both as respected presiding in the conferences, 
ordaining and stationing the preachers, and the gene- 
ral superintendency of the work. 

This point being settled, they proceeded to ballot 
for a bishop. On the first count there appeared a tie 
between Richard Whatcoat and Jesse Lee. On the 
second balloting there were fifty-nine votes for Rich- 
ard Whatcoat, and fifty-five for Jesse Lee, on which 
Mr. Whatcoat was declared to be duly elected. Ac- 
cordingly on the 18th of May he was consecrated as 
a joint superintendent with Bishop Asbury, by prayer 
and the imposition of the hands of Bishops Coke and 
Asbury, assisted by some of the elders. 

Mr. Whatcoat was one of the preachers who was 
ordained a deacon and elder by Mr. Wesley, and 
accompanied Dr. Coke to America in 1784. He 
was born in England in the year 1736, and brought 
up under the influence of a religious education, by 
which he was saved from those vicious practices to 
which many youth are addicted. At the age of 
twenty-two he was made a partaker of the witness, 
and immediately brought forth the fruits of the Holy 

91 A. HISTORY OF THE [1800' 

Spirit. In 1769 he entered as a probationer into the 
itinerant connection of Wesleyan Methodist preachers, 
then under the superintendence of Mr. Wesley. In 
this work he continued a faithful laborer, much be- 
loved and respected by the people and confided in by 
his coadjutors in this work, until he embarked for 
America, then in the 48th year of his age. He was, 
of course, one of those who assisted in the organiza- 
tion of our Church at the Christmas conference, and 
was highly distinguished for the meekness and quiet- 
ness of his spirit, as well as the prudence of his con- 
duct, and the exemplariness of his deportment. From 
the time of this conference until his election to the 
office of a bishop, he had, with the exception of three 
years, discharged the duties of presiding elder, which, 
in those days especially, required labors and privations 
of no ordinary character, as both the districts and 
circuits were large, the people in general poor, and 
the calls for preaching numerous, and often far apart. 
In the fulfilment of his duties in this station, he gave, 
it is believed, general satisfaction, and acquired the 
confidence and affection of both preachers and people. 
Those, indeed, who withheld their votes from him 
were actuated more from a conviction, it is said, of his 
lack of those peculiar talents which seemed essential 
for the office of a bishop, than from any want of con- 
fidence in either the depth of his piety, or measure of 
his prudence ; and also from that kindred feeling for 
his competitor, who had been raised among themselves 
as an American preacher, and would therefore, as 
they thought, more familiarly enter into their feelings 
and views. To both the candidates, the Church had 
awarded the merit of sharing her confidence and 


affection, as having been many years distinguished for 
their pious zeal and indefatigable labors, as well as 
for their wisdom and consistency of conduct in conned. 
But the manner in which Richard Whatcoat fulfilled 
the high trust confided to him, fully justified the wis- 
dom of the conference in selecting him as one of their 
superintendents ; for no man ever furnished more 
satisfactory evidence of his entire devotion to God, and 
of his unwavering attachment to the interests of reli- 
gion, than Bishop Whatcoat did from the time of his 
consecration to his office till the day of his death. 
His meekness and modesty, his gravity and dignity 
of deportment, pointed him out as a fair sample for a 
primitive bishop, in whose integrity all could confide as 
a father and a friend, and his subsequent life justified 
the wisdom of the selection. 

Hitherto the allowance of a traveling preacher had 
been sixty-four dollars a year and his traveling ex- 
penses. At this conference it was raised to eighty, 
and the same for his wife or widow, sixteen dollars 
a year for each child under seven years of age, 
and twenty-four dollars for those over seven and 
under fourteen years. The same provision was 
made for supernumerary and superannuated preachers, 
their wives, widows, and orphans ; and so it remained 
until the General Conference of 1816, when the 
salary of the preachers, their wives and widows, was 
raised to one hundred dollars a year — the allowance 
for children remaining the same as heretofore. 

In order to meet the increased demands for the 
support of the ministry, in addition to the class and 
quarterly collections, and the avails of the Book Con- 
cern, the money received for celebrating the rite of 


96 A HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

matrimony was to be brought to the conference, to- 
gether with the income of the Chartered Fund, and 
what might be raised in public collections on ihe cir- 
cuits and at the sessions of the conferences. 

Among the rules adopted at the conference of 1784, 
was one requiring every preacher, when admitted into 
the traveling ministry, to pay two dollars sixty-seven 
cents, and by a subsequent rule every member of the 
conference was to pay two dollars annually. This 
was to constitute a fund for the support of worn-out 
preachers, widows, and orphans. At the present 
conference it was ordered that this money should be 
appropriated to make up the deficiencies, together 
with any surplus which might remain in the hands of 
the stewards, after paying off the allowance of the 
preachers on the circuits. 

On the recommendation of Dr. Coke, who always 
manifested a lively interest in the welfare of the 
preachers and their families, those rules were adopted 
by this conference which recommend to the people 
to provide for each circuit a parsonage, " furnished 
at least with heavy furniture," or otherwise to " rent 
a house for the married preacher and his family, and 
that the annual conferences assist to make up the rent 
of such houses, as far as they can, when the circuit 
cannot do it." 

The rule for the trial of accused members was 
amended at this conference, so that the members be- 
fore whom the delinquent was brought for trial 
were to judge of his innocence or guilt, according 
to the weight of evidence adduced ; and also, that 
if the preacher who sat as judge in the case should 
dissent from the decision of the committee, he had 


the privilege of an appeal to the quarterly meeting 

The rule requiring preachers to give an account of 
private donations from their friends was at this con- 
ference rescinded. 

In fixing the boundaries of the annual conferences, 
the number of which were to be seven, the New- 
England and New-York received their respective 
bounds as separate and distinct conferences. 

Hitherto no special provision had been made for the 
support of the bishops, they having had their temporal 
wants supplied by private benefactions, and from par- 
ticular societies ; but at this conference, and it has 
been a standing regulation ever since, it was ordered 
that each annual conference should pay its proportion 
toward their support. And that the annual conferences 
might feel a measure of responsibility to the General 
Conference for their acts and doings, they were 
required by a resolution of this conference to keep 
and send records of their proceedings to the General 
Conference that they might be inspected. 

It was also resolved that no preacher should here- 
after have a seat in the General Conference, unless he 
had traveled four years, and was in full connection at 
the time. 

The bishops were authorized to ordain those Afri- 
can preachers, in the places where there were houses 
of worship for their use, who might be chosen by a 
majority of the male members of the society to which 
they belonged, and could procure a recommendation 
from the preacher in charge and his colleagues on the 
circuit, to the office of local deacons. The rule 
granting this authority was not incorporated among 

Vol. II.— 5 

98 A history or THE 11800. 

the printed regulations of the Discipline, but by a 
vote of the conference was only to stand on its 
records. Richard Allen, of Philadelphia, was the first 
colored man who received orders under this rule 
Since that time, however, many in different places 
have been elected and consecrated, and since the 
General Conference of 1812, when the bishops 
were authorized to ordain local deacons to the office 
of elders, after four years' probation as deacons, 
several have been ordained elders. 

After passing these resolutions, and making sundry 
verbal alterations in the Discipline, not necessary to 
be particularly noticed, the conference adjourned on 
the 20th day of May to meet again in the city of 
Baltimore, on the 6th day of May, 1804. 


From the close of the General Conference of 1800, to the end ol the 

year 1803. 

Having, in the preceding chapter, detailed the do- 
ings of the General Conference of 1800, we will 
return to the annual conferences, and endeavor to give 
an account of the work of God in the various parts of 
their extensive fields of labor. This year and the 
two following were eminently distinguished for 'the 
outpouring of the Spirit of God, and the enlargement 
of his work in various directions. The heavens and 
the earth, indeed, appeared to be shaken by the 
mighty power of God, and very many sinners were 
brought to feel their need of Christ, to seek and to 
find him as their only Saviour. 


It seems that during the session of the General 
Conference much good had been done by the public 
and private labors of the preachers ; and as they sepa- 
rated with much harmony of feeling, the Spirit of 
God wrought by their means in many of the places 
where they were stationed the present year. 

During the conference, a work of God commenced 
in that section of Baltimore called Old Town. Meet- 
ings were held here in private houses, which were 
attended by some of the preachers when not engaged 
in the business of the conference, by which means 
several souls were brought to the knowledge of the 
truth. From this beginning, the work spread in dif- 
ferent directions through the city, in the churches as 
well as in private houses. Such a glorious work 
had not been seen in Baltimore for several years, and 
the. old professors were much excited and encouraged 
at beholding their children and neighbors coming into 
the fold of Christ. 

About two weeks after the adjournment of the 
General Conference, an annual conference was held at 
Duck Creek Cross Roads, where many of the young 
converts, and some of the more experienced Christians 
from Baltimore, came for the purpose of attending the 
meetings. Here the Lord wrought powerfully. 
While the members of the conference were transact- 
ing their business in a private house, some of the 
younger traveling and some local preachers were 
almost constantly engaged, in preaching to the peo- 
ple, exhorting and praying with them ; and such was 
the intenseness with which they pursued their work, 
that at the church, the meeting was held without in- 


100 A HISTORY OF THE [1800 

termission for forty-five hours.* Often, during these 
meetings, the voice of the preacher was drowned 
either by the cries of the distressed or the shouts of 
the redeemed. 

As these effects were new to many, they at first 
looked on with silent astonishment, until, before they 
were fully aware of it, both saints and sinners would 
be seized with a shaking and trembling, and finally 
prostrated helpless upon the floor. The result of 
these exercises was, tliat not less than one hundred 
and fifty souls were converted to God during the ses- 
sion of the conference. Such a time of " refreshing 
from the presence of the Lord" had never before 
been witnessed in that part of the country. 

From this the work spread with great rapidity 
through the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and into the 
lower counties of the state of Delaware, bowing, in 
its course, the hearts of many stubborn sinners, who 
were brought to God by faith in Jesus Christ. Both 
preachers and people, in whose hearts the fire of Di- 
vine love had been kindled at these meetings, carried 
the sacred flame with them wherever they went, and 
thousands have doubtless praised God and are now 
praising him for the consolations of that blessed revival 
of godliness. It continued, indeed, to extend its hallow- 
ing influence on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and in 
some other places, through the remainder of the summer. 

As the result of this glorious work in the little 
village of Duck Creek, no less than one hundred and 
seventeen persons joined the Church. 

* Here, then, was a protracted meeting held long hefore 
those which have been more recently established among us and 
some other denominations. 


Nor was ihe revival confined to this part of the 
country. In Philadelphia, in various circuits in the 
vicinity of Baltimore, in the state of Vermont, in 
some portions of Canada, Connecticut, and New- 
Hampshire, the Spirit of the Lord was poured out, 
and many, very many, sinners were brought to the 
knowledge of the truth. It seems, indeed, that most 
of the preachers had received a new baptism of the 
Holy Spirit — like that which had been showered upon 
Calvin Wooster, and others in Canada, the preceding 
year; and wherever they went they carried the holy 
fire with them, and God wrought wonders by their 
instrumentality. But the most remarkable work was 
going on in the western country. 

Last year, 1799, was distinguished for the com- 
mencement of those great revivals of religion in the 
western country, which introduced the practice of 
holding " camp meetings." And as these revivals 
were characterized by signal displays of the power 
and grace of God, and eventuated in the conversion 
of thousands of souls, it will naturally be expected 
that a particular account should be given of their rise 
and progress. 

This work commenced under the united labors of two 
brothers by the name of AT Gee, one a Presbyterian and 
the other a Methodist preacher. The former, who had 
preached for some time in North Carolina and in the 
Holston country, moved into West Tennessee in the 
year 1796 or 1797, and in 1798 was settled over a 
congregation in Sumner county. In the- year 1798, 
the latter, John M'Gee, moved into West Tennessee, 
and settled in Smith county. Though belonging to 
different denominations, those doctrines and usages by 


102 A HISTORVf OF THE [1800 

which each was distinguished from the other by no 
means interrupted the harmony of brotherly love. 
Hence they cordially united in their meetings, and 
strengthened each other's hands in the work of the Lord. 
In the year 1799 they set off on a tour through 
what was called the " Barrens," toward the stale of 
Ohio, and on their way they stopped at a settlement 
on the Red River, to attend a sacramental occasion 
in the congregation under the pastoral charge of the 
Rev. Mr. M'Gready, a Presbyterian minister. On 
being introduced to him, Mr. John M'Gee was invited 
to preach, with which he complied ; and he preached 
with great liberty and power. He was followed by 
his brother, the Presbyterian minister, and the Rev. 
Mr. Hoge, whose preaching produced such a power- 
ful effect that tears in abundance attested that the 
people felt the force of the truths delivered. While 
Mr. Hoge was preaching, a woman in the congrega- 
tion was so powerfully wrought upon that she broke 
through all restraint, and shouted forth the praises of 
God aloud. Such was the movement among the 
people, evidently under the impulses of the divine 
Spirit, that, though Messrs. M'Gready, Hoge, and 
Rankins, Presbyterian ministers, left the house, the 
two yokefellows, the M'Gees, continued in their places 
watchirm the " movement of the waters." William 
M'Gee soon felt such a power come over him that he, 
not seeming to know what he did, left his seat and 
sat down on the floor, while John sat trembling under 
a consciousness of the power of God. In the mean- 
time there were great solemnity and weeping all over 
the house. He was expected to preach, but instead 
of that he arose and told the people that the overpow- 


ering nature of his feelings would not allow of his 
preaching, but as the Lord was evidently among 
them, he earnestly exhorted the people to surrender 
their hearts to him. Sobs and cries bespoke the 
deep feeling which pervaded the hearts of the people. 

This great and unusual work so excited the atten- 
tion of the people that they came in crowds from the 
surrounding country, to inquire what these things 
meant ; and this was the beginning of that great 
revival of religion in the western country which intro- 
duced "camp meetings." The people came with horses 
and wagons, bringing provisions and bedding, and 
others built temporary huts or tents, while all, Pres- 
byterians, Baptists, and Methodists, united together in 
prayer, exhortation, and preaching, exerting all their 
energies to forward this good work. 

The good effects resulting from this meeting, thus 
casually, or rather providentially convened, induced 
them to appoint another on Muddy River, and then 
another on what was called the Ridge. Here a vast 
concourse of people assembled under the foliage of 
the trees, and continued their religious exercises day 
and night. This novel way of worshiping God ex- 
cited great attention. In the night the grove was 
illuminated with lighted candles, lamps, or torches. 
This, together with the stillness of the night, the 
solemnity which rested on every countenance, the 
pointed and earnest manner with which the preachers 
exhorted the people to repentance, prayer, and faith, 
produced the most awful sensations in the minds of 
all present. While some were exhorting, others cry- 
ing for mercy, and some shouting the praises of God 
in the assembly, numbers were retired in secluded 


104 A HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

places in the grove, pouring out the desire of their 
wounded spirits in earnest prayer. It often happened 
that these were liberated from their sins, and their 
hearts filled with joy and gladness while thus engaged 
in their solitary devotions ; and then they would come 
into the encampment and declare what God had done 
for their souls. This information, communicated to 
their brethren in the artless simplicity of " new-born 
souls," would produce a thrill of joy which could hard- 
ly be suppressed : and thus they reciprocated with 
each other in their sorrows and joys, and excited one 
another to the exercise of faith in the promises of 
God, and to perseverance in the good work. 

The result of this last meeting was, according to 
the best estimate which could be made, the conversion 
of not less than one hundred souls. 

A still greater meeting of the same character was 
held soon after on Desha's Creek, near the Cumber- 
land River. Among the many thousands of people 
who attended this extraordinary meeting, many, very 
many, were made partakers of the grace ot life. It 
is said by an eye witness,* who himself largely 
participated in these solemn exercises, that at these 
meetings the people fell under the power of the word, 
" like corn before a storm of wind," and that many 
who were thus slain, " arose from the dust with di- 
vine glory beaming upon their countenances," and 
then praised God in such strains of heartfelt gratitude 
as caused the hearts of sinners to tremble within 
them. But no sooner did this first feeling of ecstasy 
subside than those young converts began to exhort 

* The Rev. John M'Gee, from whom much of this account 
is taken. 


their relatives and neighbors to turn to God and live. 
And truly it was difficult to resist the power of their 
words, for they spoke of what they felt, and their 
words were sharper than a " two-edged sword," 
piercing the heart, and extorting the cry, " What shall 
I do to be saved ?" 

Many of these were children of praying parents, 
and though uneducated, they spoke with a power and 
eloquence which " confounded the wisdom of the 
learned," and extorted the confession from many an 
unhumbled pharisee, that " God was with them of a 

• Among others who were brought to the knowledge 
of the truth at this meeting, was John Alexander 
Granade, who after an exercise of mind for a consi- 
derable time bordering on despair, came forth a 
" burning and shining light," as a public advocate 
for the cause of Christ. He soon became distinguish- 
ed among his brethren as the " western poet," and 
the " Pilgrims' Songs" were among the most popular 
hymns which were sung at those camp meetings, and 
perhaps became the fruitful source whence sprung 
the numerous ditties with which the Church was, for 
some time, almost deluged. These songs, though 
they possessed but little of the spirit of poetry, and 
therefore added nothing to true intellectual taste, 
served to excite the feelings of devotion, and keep 
alive that spirit of excitement which characterized the 
worshipers in those assemblies. Both Granade and 
Caleb Jarvis Taylor contributed much by their ener- 
getic labors to fan the flame of piety which had been 
kindled up in the hearts of the people in that country. 
It is not to be supposed that these meetings went 

5* 2 

106 A HISTORY OF THE [1800 

on without opposition. This would be calculating too 
favorably of human nature in its present state of moral 
perversity. Not only the openly profane, the non- 
professor of godliness, but many of those who " had a 
name to live, but were dead," as well as some whose 
piety was unquestionable, looked on these meetings 
and beheld these strange exercises with mingled emo- 
tions of pity and abhorrence. The natural enmity of 
the carnal mind, in the first, mingled with the pride 
of philosophy of the second, and the prejudices of re- 
ligious education, alloyed with some portion of religious 
bigotry in the third, created, altogether, a formidable 
array of opposition, which showed itself in all the 
variety of ways which the peculiarity of views and 
feelings in the above characters might dictate. Some 
would scoff, others would philosophize, while the lat- 
ter would dogmatize in no stinied terms of religious 
intolerance, while they beheld those manifestations of 
what the friends of the cause justly believed to be the 
power and grace of God. 

But there was one argument which silenced them 
all. Often those very persons who were most violent 
in their opposition, most vociferous in their hard 
speeches against what they denominated " wild fire," 
would become so warmed by its heat, that their hearts 
were melted within them, and " falling down on their 
faces, they would worship God, and report that God 
was in them of a truth." This argument was irre- 
sistible. It was demonstration. And many such 
were presented during the progress of these meetings. 
In such cases, those who before had been blasphe- 
mers, and mockers, persecutors, and bigoted dogma- 
tizers, were not only struck dumb, but the " tongue 


of the dumb was made to sing," and those very op 
posers of the work became the living witnesses for its 
divine and genuine character, and stood forth as its 
bold and fearless defenders. 

In the meantime the numbers attending these meet- 
ings were continually increased, — some from a sincere 
desire to be benefited ; others were attracted from 
curiosity, and not a few from motives of speculation, 
to arm themselves with arguments of resistance to 
their progress. What tended not a little to give them 
notoriety, and to excite the public attention toward 
them, was, the newspapers of the day were teeming 
with accounts of these camp meetings, some in favor 
and some against them — and all, whether friends or 
foes, were eager to gratify their curiosities, or benefit 
their souls, by becoming eye and ear witnesses of the 
manner in which they were conducted. 

Accordingly,, in 1801 the numbers who attended 
those which were held in Kentucky were immense, 
some as occasional visitors, and others as residents on 
the ground through the progress of the meetings. 
The numbers varied, of course, according to the den- 
sity or sparsity of the population in their immediate 
neighborhoods ; and they have been estimated from 
three to twenty thousand. At one held in Cabbin 
Creek a Presbyterian minister who was present, and 
zealously engaged in promoting its objects, estimated 
the number at not less than twenty thousand. 

Though at this meeting the Methodists appeared to 
be the most actively engaged in the work, yet some 
of the Presbyterian brethren engaged heartily with them, 
while others stood aloof, not knowing what judgment 
to form of it. Being, however, encouraged by the 


108 A HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

example of others, many of them united with zealous 
hearts in the cause, and at this great meeting the 
Methodists and Presbyterians joined their forces to 
push forward the work, and they seemed to beat- 
down all opposition. The scene is represented as 
being indescribably awful ! An eye witness thus 
writes concerning it : — 

" Few, if any, escaped without being affected. Such as 
tried to run from it, were frequently struck on the way, or 
impelled by some alarming signal to return. No circum- 
stance at this meeting appeared more striking than the 
great numbers that fell on the third night ; and to prevent 
their being trodden under foot by the multitude, they were 
collected together and laid out in order, or on two squares 
of the meeting house, till a considerable part of the floor 
was covered. But the great meeting at Caneridge ex- 
ceeded all. The number that fell at this meeting: was 
reckoned at about three thousand, among whom were 
several Presbyterian ministers, who, according to their own 
confession, had hitherto possessed only a speculative 
knowledge of religion. Here the formal professor, the 
deist, and the intemperate, met with one common lot, and 
confessed, with equal candor, that they were destitute of the 
true knowledge of God, and strangers to the religion of 
Tesus Christ." 

In consequence of such a vast assemblage of peo- 
ple, it was impossible for any one voice to reach the 
whole of them with intelligible language : hence they 
were divided into several groups, and addressed by as 
many different speakers, while the whole grove, at 
times, became vocal with the praises of God, and at 
other times pierced with the cries of distressed peni- 


tent sinners. As before said, the scene was pecu- 
liarly awful at night. The range of the tents — the 
fires reflecting lights through the branches of the 
trees — the candles and lamps illuminating the entire 
encampment — hundreds of immortal beings moving 
to and fro — some preaching — some praying for 
mercy, and others praising God from a sense of his 
pardoning mercy — all these things presented a scene 
indescribably awful and affecting. 

As an instance of the manner in which some of 
those who attended these meetings from a sportive 
disposition were arrested and brought to a better state 
of mind, the following is related : — A gentleman and 
a lady, of some standing in the gay circles of life, 
attended the above meeting with a view to divert and 
amuse themselves at the expense of those whom they 
considered as deluded with a strange infatuation. 
With these thoughts they agreed that if one of them 
should fall the other should not desert him or her. 
They had not been long on the* ground before the wo- 
man fell ! The merry gentleman, instead of keeping 
his promise, frightened at the sight of his female 
friend on the ground, fled with great precipitancy. He 
did not, however, proceed more than two hundred 
yards, before he also was prostrate upon the ground, 
and was soon surrounded by a praying multitude. 

In 1801 this work was greatly aided by the ener- 
getic labors of the Rev. William M'Kendree (after- 
ward bishop) who was this year appointed to the 
Kentucky district. Having been in the midst of the 
revivals in the lower part of the state, and having his 
soul fired with the sacred flame which was burning 
with such intensity among the people, he went up into 


110 A HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

the centre of the settlements and carried the tidings 
among them of what God was doing by means of those 
extraordinary meetings. His congregations, composed 
chiefly of Methodists and Presbyterians, were power 
fully affected when he gave them, at the conclusion 
of his sermon, an animated account of the commence- 
ment and progress of this work. It is said that while 
he held up before them the truths of the gospel, in- 
termixed with narrations of the work of God at these 
meetings, his whole soul seemed to be filled with 
" glory and with God," and that his very countenance 
beamed with brightness. While he related with art- 
less simplicity, and with glowing warmth, the manner 
in which God wrought upon the souls of the people, 
the many happy conversions which had been witness- 
ed, and the astonishing effects which attended the 
preaching of God's word, the hearts of God's people 
began to beat in unison with his own, while sinners 
were weeping in every direction under the melting in- 
fluence of the Spirit of God. 

By this means these same meetings were introduced 
into the centre of the state, and spread through all the 
settlements in the western country ; and such was 
the eagerness of the people to attend, that the roads 
were literally crowded with those that were pressing 
their way to the groves ; so much so that entire 
neighborhoods would be forsaken, for a season, of 
their inhabitants. And as the Methodists and Pres- 
byterians were generally united together in these 
meetings, they took the name of " General Camp 
Meetings." By these means they spread all through 
Tennessee, Kentucky, and some parts of Ohio, carry- 
ing with them fire and destruction into the enemy's 


territories, and bowing the hearts of God's people as 
the heart of one man to the yoke of Jesus Christ. 
Of their subsequent progress, and the influence they 
have exerted on society, I need not here speak, as 
these things are known to all. 

Among the traveling preachers who entered into 
this work in those days, we may mention William 
Burke, John Sale, Benjamin Lakin, and Henry Smith, 
with a number of others, whose zealous efforts con- 
tributed greatly to spread the gospel in these new 
settlements. Mr. M'Kendree was the life and soul of 
this army of itinerants. Wherever he went, both by 
precept and example, he aroused the lukewarm to 
diligence, confirmed those who stood in the faith, and 
alarmed the fears of careless sinners by his power- 
ful appeals to their consciences. By his means 
many local preachers who had moved into the coun- 
try were induced to forsake their secular employ- 
ments, and enter the ranks of the itinerancy, and they 
became powerful instruments of extending the revi- 
vals through the land. Despising alike the luxuries of 
life, and the frowns or flatteries of the world, they went 
forth under the banners of truth, everywhere pro- 
claiming in the ears of the people that they must 
" fear God and give glory to his name, for the hour 
of his judgment is come." 

It will be seen by the preceding remarks that these 
camp meetings were not the result of a previously 
digested plan, but like every other peculiarity of Me- 
thodism, were introduced by providential occurrences, 
and were embraced and followed up by God's servants 
because they found them subservient to the grand de- 
sign they had in view, namely, the salvation of the 


112 A HISTORY OF THE [1800 

world by Jesus Christ. Indeed, they did not origin- 
ate with the Methodists, but upon a sacramental oc- 
casion among the Presbyterians, at which time there 
was such a remarkable outpouring of the Divine Spi- 
rit in the people as inclined them to protract their 
exercises to an unusual period ; and then this being 
noised abroad brought others to the place, and finally 
so many that no house could hold them ; this induced 
them to go into the field, and erect temporary shelters 
for themselves, and to bring provision for their suste- 
nance ; and finding that God so abundantly blessed 
them in these meetings, they were led to continue them, 
until they at length became very general among the 
Methodists throughout the country. 

In order to give a connected view of the rise of 
camp meetings in the west, I have a little anticipated 
the regular date of the history, and shall therefore 
conclude what I have to say on this subject for the 
present, with a few reflections. 

I have simply related the facts in respect to this 
extraordinary work as I find them recorded in the 
historical sketches of those times. No doubt many 
now, as then, will be skeptically inclined in regard to 
the genuineness of the work. To remove this skep- 
ticism from the minds of candid inquirers after truth, 
(for such only will be convinced,) let it be remarked, 

1. That as to the facts themselves, they are indu- 
bitable — that is, there can be no room to doubt that 
such meetings were held as above narrated, and that 
sinners were prostrated to the earth under the preach- 
ing of God's word — that they cried for mercy — were 
delivered in answer to prayer — and that such, as well 
as old professors of religion, often shouted aloud the 


praises of God — and that many of these, perhaps 
most of them, afterward led " peaceable lives, in all 
godliness and honesty." These facts are as well at 
tested as any we have upon the pages of history. 

2. It is admitted that in such vast multitudes, as- 
sembled in the open air, under circumstances of such 
peculiar excitement, and many of them not well in- 
structed in science or morals, there must have been 
some disorder, some mingling of human passions not 
sanctified by grace, and some words and gesticulations 
not in accordance with strict religious decorum. Every 
action, therefore, and every thing which was said and 
done, I am by no means careful to defend or pledged 
to justify. 

3. When we look into the book of God, we find 
some instances on record of persons having been 
affected in a similar way, who were manifestly under 
the divine influence. Thus Daniel says of himself, 
that when he saw the vision, " there remained no 
strength in me ; for my comeliness was turned in me 
into corruption, and I retained no strength" — and 
when the Lord had spoken to him he "stood trembling," 
see Daniel x, 8—11. So Saul of Tarsus, when sa- 
luted by the voice from heaven, fell helpless upon the 
ground, was struck blind, and remained so for three 
days. And may not the strong cries and tears of 
those persons who were struck under conviction at 
those camp meetings, have been produced from a 
cause similar to that which is recorded in Mark ix, 
26, where it is said, " that the spirit cried, and rent 
him sore, and came out of him ?" 

4. In examining the history of the work of God 
in his church at different periods, we find similar 


114 A HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

instances of mental and bodily exercises on record. 
Read, for example, President Edwards' account of 
the revival in New-England, and Mr. Wesley's Jour- 
nal, particularly from 1739 to 1742, and his corres- 
pondence with the Rev. Ralph Erskine of Scotland, in 
relation to this subject. 

In reference to the work in New-England, in the 
early part of the eighteenth century, we have the fol- 
lowing testimony of a convention of Congregational 
ministers, who assembled in Boston, July 7, 1743, 
for the express purpose of considering and reporting 
on the nature of this work. The following is an ex- 
tract from their report : — 

" We never before saw so many brought under soul con- 
cern, and with distress making the inquiry, ' What must 
we do to be saved V and these persons of all characters 
and ages. With regard to the suddenness and quick pro- 
gress of it, many persons and places were surprised with 
the gracious visit together, or near about the same time ; 
and the heavenly influence diffused itself far and wide, like 
the light of the morning. Also in respect of the degree of 
operation, both in a way of terror and in a way of conso 
lation, attended in many with unusual bodily effects. Not 
that all who were accounted the subjects of the present work 
have had these extraordinary degrees of previous distress 
and subsequent joy : but many, and we suppose the greater 
number have been wrought on in a more gentle and silent 
way, and without any other appearances than are common 
and usual at other times, when persons have been awaken- 
ed to a solemn concern about salvation, and have been 
thought to have passed out of a state of nature into a state 
of grace. As to those whose inward concern has occasioned 
extraordinary outward distresses, the most of them when we 


came to converse with them, were able to give what ap- 
peared to us a rational account of what so affected their 
minds, viz., a quick sense of their guilt, misery, and dan- 
ger ; and they would often mention the passages in the ser- 
mons they heard, or particular texts of Scripture, which 
were sent home upon them with such a powerful impres- 
sion. And as to such whose joys have carried them into 
transports and ecstasies, they in like manner have account- 
ed for them, from a lively sense of the danger they hoped 
they were freed from, and the happiness they were now- 
possessed of; such clear views of divine and heavenly 
things, and particularly'qf the excellences and loveliness 
of Jesus Christ, and such sweet tastes of redeeming love 
as they never had before. The instances were very few 
in which we had reason to think these affections were 
produced by visionary or sensible representations, or by 
any other images than such as the Scripture itself presents 
unto us. 

" And here we think it not amiss, to declare, that in 
dealing with these persons, we have been careful to inform 
them, that the nature of conversion does not consist in 
these passionate feelings ; and to warn them not to look 
upon their state as safe, because they have passed out of 
deep distress into high joys, unless they experienced a 
renovation of nature, followed with a change of life, and a 
course of vital holiness. Nor have we gone into such an 
opinion of the bodily effects with which this work has 
been attended in some of its subjects, as to judge them any 
signs that persons who have been so affected were then 
under a saving work of the Spirit of God. No : we never 
so much as called these bodily seizures convictions, or 
spoke of them as the immediate work of the Holy Spirit. 
Yet we do not think them inconsistent with a work of God 
upon the soul at that very time ; but judge that those in- 
ward impressions which come from the Spirit of God, 


116 A. HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

those terrors and consolations of which he is the author, 
may, according to the natural frame and constitution which 
some persons are of, occasion such bodily effects ; — and 
therefore that those extraordinary outward symptoms are 
not an argument that the work is delusive, or from the in- 
fluence and agency of the evil spirit." 

This document is said to have been signed by no 
less than sixty-eight ministers, all of whom concurred 
in the views therein expressed, while only fifteen re- 
fused their assent to an article in the same report 
which accorded to the practice, at that time a novelty 
in New-England, of itinerating from place to place to 
preach the gospel — a practice introduced by Mr. 
Whitefield, and followed by a few others who had 
been awakened to activity by his zealous labors. 

5. With these facts and examples before us, are 
we not justified in believing, that persons under the 
powerful operations of the Spirit of God, either con- 
victing them suddenly and strongly of sin, or filling 
their souls with his own pure love, may have their 
animal functions suspended for a season, so that 
there shall " remain no strength in them ?" Is there 
any thing either unscriptural or incredible in all this 1 

6. Will it be denied by any believer in divine reve- 
lation, or even by a deist, that God can, and often 
does, so work upon the mind of man, as to make that 
mind fully conscious of his presence ? He who affects 
to doubt this might as well throw off all disguise at 
once, and turn an open atheist, and deny that there is 
any God who presides over the destinies of men, or 
exercises any control over their understandings and 

7. As the mind and body are so intimately con- 


nected that the one acts upon the other, is there, after 
all, any thing so very extraordinary in the supposition 
that under the strong excitement produced upon the 
one by the sudden flashes of truth, the other should 
be equally and suddenly affected in the manner al- 
ready described ? How common are the instances in 
which persons have been known to swoon away by 
receiving sudden news either of a joyful or an alarm- 
ing character ? Either great anguish or excessive joy 
has often been the means of depriving individuals of 
their physical strength. And what sorrow is equal to 
that which an awakened sinner feels when he is sud- 
denly brought to see himself as he in reality is, a 
rebel against his God, and consequently exposed to 
wrath and hell ! And must not the joy of such a per- 
son be proportionably great when he finds himself in 
stantaneously delivered from that load of guilt, and 
filled with a " peace unknown to sensual minds ?" 

8. It is frequently objected to exercises of this sort, 
that the passions are chiefly wrought upon. This in- 
deed may be the case in many instances. And I 
would by no means plead for a religion which does 
not enter into the judgment, and influence the under- 
standing as well as the affections. But yet, man is a 
creature of passions as well as of intellect. And as 
Christianity is not intended to destroy, but only to 
regulate the passions, as well as to enlighten the un- 
derstanding and sanctify the heart, we must expect 
the passions to be moved, and the emotions of fear, 
hope, love, and joy to be excited in religious as well 
as in all other exercises. To these passions Christi- 
anity certainly addresses itself, as well as to the judg- 
ment, and moves man to action from fear, from hope, 


118 A HISTORY OF THE [1800. 

and from the promises of pardon, comfort, and protec- 
tion, as well as from that eternal reward hereafter, 
which makes the Christian joyfully anticipate the 
pleasures of the future life. Those therefore who 
address themselves to the understanding only, as if 
men were merely intellectual beings, avail themselves 
of not one half of the motives with which the gospel 
furnishes its servants, to induce sinners to repent and 
believe in Christ, and to encourage believers to perse- 
vere in the path of duty. 

9. These things being so, is it any matter of won- 
der that, when the awfully sublime and truly affecting 
subjects of Christianity are presented to the mind, cor- 
responding effects should be produced upon the pas 
sions, and that these, when violently agitated with 
either religious fear or joy, should also affect the 
body ? 

10. But we do not place dependence upon these 
external signs as evidences in themselves of either 
penitence, conversion, or sanctification. As there may 
be a fear, a hope, and a love, which is not well 
founded, so there may be much bodily exercise with- 
out any spiritual profit. These things may or may 
not be. If a person who has had these exercises pro- 
fess, in the meantime, to have experienced a change 
of heart, if he bring forth the fruit of righteousness in 
his subsequent life, we may then safely conclude that 
the work was effected by the Spirit of God ; but if 
otherwise, if he still manifest the unhumbled spirit of 
the Pharisee, or bring forth the " works of the flesh," 
his profession cannot save him from the condemnation 
of the hypocrite, or the misery of the self-deluded. 

These remarks are submitted to the candid reader, 


with the hope that they may assist him in making up 
an unbiased judgment in respect to these things ; and 
although, in the course of our history, we shall be 
compelled to admit the humiliating fact, that some of 
the subjects of the above revivals brought forth fruit 
unto death, yet it will be equally plain that the influ- 
ence of others on society generally was of a very 
hallowed character. 

Not less than twenty-four preachers were located 
this year, three withdrew, and four had died in peace. 
These latter were, William Early, Thomas Raymond, 
Benton Riggin, and Robert Benham. These had all 
been faithful in their labors, and died in the Lord. 

This year, 
Last year, 




in the Church. 

Colored. Total. Preachers. 

13,452 64,894 287 
12,236 61,351 272 

Increase, 2,327 1,216 3,543 15 

1801. There were only seven annual conferences 
held this year, the first commencing in Camden, S. C, 
January 1, and the last in Lynn, Mass., July 17. 

The work of God which had commenced last year 
under such favorable auspices, and which has been 
so fully detailed, continued this year, in many places, 
with increased rapidity >and power. Bishop Asbury 
and his colleague, Bishop Whatcoat, made their an- 
nual tour of the continent, not only in visiting and 
presiding in the conferences, but also preaching to the 
people in the various cities, towns, and villages, as 
well as the new and scattered settlements through 
which they were enabled to pass. The revivals of 
religion which had been witnessed, the unabated con- 


120 A HISTORY OF THE [1801. 

fidence and attachment which had been manifested 
toward Bishop Asbury by the conference, and the re- 
lief afforded him in his arduous labors by the con- 
secration of Mr. Whatcoat as a colleague, seemed to 
put new life into him, so that he remarks, after at- 
tending a conference in Philadelphia, " My health is 
restored to the astonishment of myself and friends." 
" Surely," he says in connection with his allusion to 
the Philadelphia conference, " we may say our pente- 
cost is fully come this year." 

Having so fully narrated the progress of the work 
of God in the western country under date of 1800, it 
is not necessary to add any thing in respect to it 
here. In other parts of the country, however, the 
work went on under somewhat different circumstances, 
but with equal indications of divine power and good- 
ness. In New-Hampshire and Vermont there were 
signal displays of the grace of God in the awakening 
and conversion of souls. One of the preachers 
writes in the following strain respecting the state of 
things there : — 

" Landaff circuit, in New-Hampshire, is all in a flame. 
Upward of one hundred have been converted to God ; and 
the work goes on still in a glorious manner. In Chester- 
field circuit nearly one hundred have joined our society, 
and the prospect is now brighter than it has been. In 
Vershire circuit, in Vermont, there is a good work. More 
than one hundred have joined society, and the power of 
the Lord is remarkably displayed ; many fall down, being 
overwhelmed with the power of the Lord. Weathersfield 
circuit has been gradually gaining ground the whole year, 
and now the times of refreshing are come from the presence 
of the Lord. In the town of Athens we had a most melt- 


ing time. The power of the Lord was present to heal, and 
eighty-three joined society on that day, although there was 
no society there before." 

It seems that the revivals in Canada and the west- 
ern country began to exert an influence in other 
parts of the work, and lead to a similar method in 
promoting the cause of God. In the latter part of 
May of this year, in the town of Dover, Delaware 
state, a meeting was held for several days, at which 
time the Lord wrought powerfully upon the hearts of 
the people, so that on the last day of the meeting one 
hundred and thirteen persons united with the Church. 
Many more took their departure to their homes under 
a deep conviction of their sinfulness, and earnestly 
groaning for redemption in the blood of Christ. 

In the Baltimore district, which included a number 
of large circuits, it was estimated that upward of a 
thousand souls were converted to God in the space 
of a few months. In Annapolis, the metropolis of the 
state of Maryland, many were brought to the know- 
ledge of salvation by the remission of sins, and there 
was great joy in that city. 

In Upper Canada, the glorious revival which has 
been already mentioned had extended along up the 
shore of Lake Ontario, even to the head of the lake, 
to Niagara, and thence to Long Point on the north- 
western shore of Lake Erie, including four large four 
weeks' circuits. The district this year was under the 
charge of the Rev. Joseph Jewell, who traveled ex- 
tensively through the newly settled country, preaching 
in log houses, in barns, and sometimes in groves, 
and everywhere beholding the displays of the power 
and grace of God in the awakening and conversion of 

Vol. II.— 6 

122 A HISTORY OF THE [1801. 

sinners, as well as the sanctification of believers. A 
great work of God was carried on this year under the 
preaching of Joseph Sawyer, whose faithful labors on 
the Niagara circuit will be long and gratefully remem- 
bered by the people in that country ; and it was during 
this revival that the present writer, after four or five 
years of hard struggling under a consciousness of his 
sinfulness, was brought into the fold of Christ ; and 
here he wishes to record his gratitude to God for his 
distinguished grace, in snatching such a brand from 
the fire, and to his people for their kindness, and more 
especially to that servant of God, the Rev. Joseph 
Sawyer, under whose pastoral oversight he was 
brought into the Church. 

Nor should the labors and privations, the prayers 
and sufferings in the cause of Christ of that faithful 
servant of God, the Rev. James Coleman, be forgot- 
ten. He preceded Mr. Sawyer in the Niagara 
circuit,* and though not distinguished for shining 

* This part of the country was first visited by a local preacher 
from the United States by the name of Neel, who commenced 
preaching in the vicinity of Queenstown, amid much obloquy and 
opposition. He was a holy man of God and an able minis- 
ter of the New Testament. His woid was blessed to the 
awakening and conversion of many souls, and he was always 
spoken of by the people with great affection and veneration as 
the pioneer of Methodism in that country. Among those who 
first joined the society may be mentioned Christian Warner. 
who lived near what is now called St. David's, who became a 
class leader, and his house was a home for the preachers and 
for preaching for many years. He was considered a father in 
Israel by all who knew him. The first Methodist meeting 
house erected in that part of the country was in his neighbor- 
hood. This was built in 1801. 

Christian Warner has been dead many years ; but several of 


talents as a preacher, he was beloved by the people of 
God for his fidelity in the work of the ministry, and for 
his deep devotion to their spiritual interests, evinced by 
his faithful attention to the arduous duties of his cir- 
cuit. He had many seals to his ministry. And the 
writer of this remembers with gratitude the many 
prayers which James Coleman offered up to God in 
his behalf while a youthful stranger in that land, and 
while seeking, with his eyes but half opened, to find 
the way of " peace and pleasantness." 

The work also prevailed on the Bay of Quintie and 
Oswegochie circuits, under the labors of Sylvanus 
Keeler, Seth Crowell, and others. The latter was a 
young preacher of great zeal and of the most indefati- 
gable industry ; and going into that country he soon 
caught the flame of Divine love which had been enkin 
died by the instrumentality of Messrs. Wooster, Coate 
and Dunham. He entered into the work with great 
energy and perseverance, and God blessed his labors 
with much success. So greatly had God prospered 
the labors of his faithful servants in this province, 
that there were returned in the minutes of conference 
for this year 1 159 members of the Church. It had, 
indeed, extended into the lower province, on the Ottawa 
River, an English settlement about fifty miles west 
of Montreal. This new circuit was traveled by 
John Robinson and Caleb Morris, and they returned 
forty-five members in the Church. 

his descendants are there, some of whom are members of the 

Mr. Neel lived to see large and flourishing societies esta- 
blished through all that country, and at length was gathered to 
nis fathers in a good old age. 


121 A HISTORY OF THE [1801. 

Like the new settlements in the western country, 
Upper Canada was at that time but sparsely populated, 
so that in riding from one appointment to another, the 
preachers sometimes had to pass through wildernesses 
from ten to sixty miles' distance, and not unfrequently 
had either to encamp in the woods or sleep in an Indian 
hut ; and sometimes, in visiting the newly settled 
places, they have carried provender for their horses 
over night, when they would tie them to a tree to 
prevent their straying in the woods ; while the preach- 
ers themselves had to preach, eat, and lodge in the 
same room, looking at the curling smoke ascending 
through an opening in the roof of the log house, 
whicli had not yet the convenience of even a chimney. 

But in the midst of these labors and privations, 
they seemed to be abundantly compensated in behold- 
ing the blessed effects of their evangelical efforts, and 
the cordiality and high gratification with which they 
were received and treated, more especially by those 
whose hearts God had touched by his Spirit. For 
though these people were in the wilderness, and many 
of them poor, they seemed to be ripe for the gospel, 
and it was no less gratifying to its messengers than it 
was pleasurable to its recipients to behold its blessed 
effects upon the hearts and lives of such as " believed 
with a heart unto righteousness." While those who 
resisted the truth, often manifested their enmity hy 
persecuting those who proclaimed it, such as did 
" receive it in the love of it," evinced their affection 
and gratitude to those who published it, by making 
them welcome to their habitations, and entertaining 
them in the very best manner they could. For these 
self-denying labors, and sacrifices of these early 


Methodist preachers, thousands of immortal beings in 
Canada will doubtless praise God in that day " when 
he shall come to make up his jewels." 

A very serious affair occurred in Charleston, South 
Carolina, about this time. In 1801 and 1802 the 
Rev. Messrs. George Dougherty and John Harper 
were stationed in that city. Hearing that Mr. Harper 
had received some pamphlets from the north, contain- 
ing resolutions to memorialize the legislature against 
slavery, notwithstanding the offensive documents were 
burned in presence of the mayor of the city, a lawless 
mob collected to avenge themselves on the person of 
Mr. Harper. He, however, providentially escaping 
from their fury, they seized on Mr. Dougherty, drag- 
ged him through the street to the pump, and having 
placed his head under the spout, commenced pumping 
water upon him, and in all probability they would 
have suffocated him, had not a pious woman, a Mrs. 
Kingsley, interfered in his behalf. With an intrepidity 
worthy of all praise, she resolutely placed herself be- 
tween the infuriated populace and their intended vic- 
tim, and stuffed her shawl into the mouth of the spout, 
and thus stopped the flowing of the water. This 
heroic act filled the persecutors of Dougherty with 
astonishment. In silent amazement they paused 
from their murderous work. At this moment of sus- 
pense, a gentleman with a drawn sword stood in the 
midst of them, and, taking Dougherty by the hand, 
boldly declared his intention to protect him from their 
violence at all hazards ; and he then led him away, 
no one daring to interfere. Thus completing the victory 
which the " weaker sex" had so daringly begun, the 
man of God, thoroughly wet by the water of the pump, 


126 A HISTORY OF THE [1801. 

was rescued from the hand of violence, and restored 
lo his friends in safety — although it is said that his 
sufferings in this cruel affair laid the foundation of that 
pulmonary disease with which he afterward died. It is 
furthermore stated, that of all those concerned in this 
persecution not one prospered; most of them died mise- 
rable deaths, and one of them acknowledged that God's 
curse lighted upon him for his conduct in this affair. 
Thirty-two preachers located this year, three were 
returned supernumerary, and four, namely, James Til- 
lotson, Abraham Andrews, Salathiel Weeks, and 
Charles Burgoon, after a faithful discharge of their 
duties as ministers of Christ, had died in the hope of 
everlasting life. 

This year 
Last year 




in the Church. 

Colored. Total. 

15,688 72,874 
13,452 64,894 



Increase 5,744 2,236 7,980 29 

There was no account rendered of the numbers in 
Kentucky and Tennessee, where those great revivals 
of religion had occurred, otherwise the increase would 
have appeared much larger than it does. As it is, 
however, it shows the blessed results of those revivals 
which have been before detailed. 

On the 29th day of January of this year, the Rev. 
Devereaux Jarratt departed this life in the 69th year 
of his age ; and though he was never in connection 
with the Methodists, yet as he favored them in the 
early period of their ministry, and was greatly instru- 
mental in promoting the work of God in Virginia in 
those clays, it seems proper to give some account 


of his character, labors, and death. Mr. Jarratt was 
born in New-Kent county, in Virginia, on the 6th of 
January, 1732, O. S. He was awakened to a sense 
of his lost and guilty condition by the reading of one 
of Mr. Flavel's sermons, and after a long course of 
mental discipline, a severe struggling against the in- 
nate corr'^'ons of his heart, when about twenty-eight 
years of age, he was made a partaker of justifying 
faith in Jesus Christ. In his 30th year he began to 
prepare for orders in the English Church, and after 
due preparation he went to England and received con 
secjration on Christmas day, in the year 1762. Be 
fore his return he preached several times in London, 
and such was the zeal with which he spoke in the 
name of his divine Master, that he even then was call- 
ed by some a Methodist, an appellation commonly 
given to those who manifested more than usual zeal 
in their ministry. 

On his return to America, in 1763, he was settled 
in the parish of Bath, Dinwiddie county, Virginia, and 
became a zealous and evangelical minister of Jesus 
Christ, by which means he incurred the dipleasure 
of the lukewarm clergy of his own Church, as well 
as of those members who had "the form of godliness, 
but denied the power thereof."* This, no doubt, led 
him to seek for spiritual associates elsewhere, and we 

* Bishop Asbury, who preached the funeral sermon of Mr. 
Jarratt, saysof him, " He was a faithful and successful preacher. 
He had witnessed four or five periodical revivals of religion in 
his parish. — When he began his labors, there was no other, 
that he knew of, evangelical ministers in all the province of 
Virginia." — " He traveled into several counties, and there 
were very few parish churches within fifty miles of his own, 
in which he had not preached : to which labors of love and 


128 A HISTORY OF THE [1801. 

accordingly find him, as we have already seen, receiv- 
ing and aiding the Methodist preachers when they 
came into his neighborhood — for which service they 
in several instances recorded their gratitude. 

Mr. Jarratt continued his friendship for his Me- 
thodist brethren in general until the organization of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784, when he mani- 
fested, if we may believe in the genuineness of the let- 
ters attributed to him which were published after his 
death, no little displeasure at their proceedings, and 
uttered some hard things against Dr. Coke, Bishop 
Asbury, and some others. 

zeal, was added, preaching the word of life on solitary planta- 
tions, and in meeting houses. He was the first who received 
our despised preachers. When strangers and unfriended, he 
took them to his house, and had societies formed in his parish. 
Some of his people became traveling and local preachers 
among us." — "I verily believe that hundreds were awakened 
by his labors. They are dispersed — some have gone to the 
Carolinas, to Georgia, to the western country — some perhaps 
are in heaven, and some, it may be, in hell." This is a strong 
testimony in favor of Mr. Jarratt. Little did the writer think 
when he penned it that a future day would reveal an edition of 
Mr. Jarratt's posthumous letters, containing such hard censures 
against the Methodists as are therein found. Indeed these 
censures are so much unlike the general tone and spirit of Mr. 
Jarratt, as they were exemplified in his life and conversation, 
that some, who revere his memory, have expressed doubts of 
their genuineness, or at least that their editor foisted in expres- 
sions which are not in the originals. On the truth of such a 
conjecture it is scarcely possible to decide ; but on reading the 
letters, there does not appear to me any thing, except the gene- 
ral character of their reputed author, to cause one to suspect 
their genuineness. Mr. Jarratt doubtless thought he had 
cause to complain, and under the influence of this impression, 
he seems to have expressed himself in a strain of invective 
somewhat unbecoming the character he sustained. 


But while he was dissatisfied with the Methodists, 
on account of their becoming an independent Church, 
he seemed equally as much so with most of the clergy 
of his own Church, because of their dereliction from 
the doctrines of their Church, and their manifest want 
of a conformity to the formularies of their religion, 
and especially those parts which enjoined experi- 
mental and practical piety. In this frame of mind he 
laments, in pathetic strains, the low state of religion in 
his Church, the want of evangelical zeal and enlight- 
ened piety in her clergy, and the general deadness to 
spiritual things throughout the country. 

I have made this short record of Mr. Jarratt, 
1 . Because I think it due to him as an active, zealous, 
and successful minister of Jesus Christ, whose friend- 
ship for the Methodists when they first visited Vir- 
ginia, and for a considerable time after, greatly aided 
them in promoting the cause of God. For a number 
of years he was indefatigable in his gospel labors, and 
was instrumental in the conversion of many sinners. 

2. Because his posthumous letters have been refer- 
red to as an evidence of his regret that he had contri- 
buted so much to subserve the cause of Methodism. 
It is, indeed, to be lamented that any thing should have 
occurred to interrupt, in any degree, that harmony of 
Christian fellowship which evidently subsisted be- 
tween him and the Methodists, and which had been 
for a number of years mutually beneficial, and had, ac- 
cordingly, been reciprocated with the utmost good will. 
But on the organization of our Church, Mr. Jarratt 
found himself between two fires. On the one hand, 
he could not approve in his judgment of that organiza- 
tion, while his feelings tied him to his old friends ; 

6* 2 

130 A HISTORY OF THE [1802. 

and in this conflict between his judgment and feelings, 
the latter became somewhat irritated, and prompted 
him to say things which, it may be presumed, his 
more sober judgment would have condemned. On 
the other hand, while his judgment approved of the 
doctrine and formularies of devotion recognized in 
his own Church, he could not fellowship the conduct 
of her lukewarm clergy and members ; and hence, on 
perceiving this inconsistency between faith and prac- 
tice, he loudly condemned the one, while he warmly 
applauded the other. In this dilemma, a situation 
much to be deprecated by every conscientious minis- 
ter of Jesus Christ, he seems to have said some 
things which may justly be regretted by his friends in 
both communions. 

It is not doubted, however, considering his general 
character, course of conduct, and the predominant 
tone of his writings, that his last end was " peace and 
assurance for ever" — ^and that with Wesley and 
Fletcher, whom he so much admired, and with those 
Methodist preachers with whom he once took such 
sweet counsel, as well as with all those of every name 
who loved the Lord Jesus Christ, he is now united in 
ascribing salvation and honor to Him who loved them 
and, washed them in his own blood. 

1802. This year there were seven annual confer- 
ences, and as they remained stationary, as to numbers, 
for several years, and were generally held for each 
section of the country about the same time of the 
year, I will here give the time and place of each, 
that the reader may see the general route taken by 
the superintendents every year. 

Oct. 1, 1801, the conference for the western 


preachers was held in Ebenezer, Tennessee : Jan. 1, 
1802, in Camden, South Carolina: March 1, at 
Salem meeting-house, North Carolina : April 1, in 
Baltimore, Maryland: May 1, in Philadelphia : June 1, 
New-York: July 1, in Monmouth, Maine. There 
were about twenty new circuits added this year, but 
as circuits were almost continually increased by the 
addition of new, and the division of old ones, by which 
their names were changed, it seems inexpedient, to 
particularize them, unless something special shall 
render it necessary. As an evidence of the good 
effects of the revivals we have noticed, we may remark 
that there were sixty-seven preachers admitted on 
trial, and only ten located. 

This good work continued in various parts of the 
country, particularly in the west, by the instrumentality 
of camp-meetings, and also in some of the southern 
states. In Virginia, where the cause of religion had 
suffered severely on account of the secession and 
subsequent conduct of O'Kelly and his partisans, 
the Lord began again to show himself in mercy in 
the awakening and conversion of souls. At Mabry's 
and Merrit's chapels, and in Greenville circuit, there 
were remarkable displays of the power and grace of 
God, which eventuated in bringing hundreds of sinners 
into the light of the gospel. Norfolk and Portsmouth 
shared in the blessed work. Tn Rockingham an 
account is given of a meeting which continued not less 
than nine days, during which time almost all secular 
business was suspended, so entirely did the concerns 
of eternity occupy the time and attention of the people. 
It seems, therefore, that protracted meetings, as they 
have been more recently called, were not unknown in 


132 A HISTORY OF THE [1802. 

those days. The chief difference between those and 
such as have been held within a few past years, 
consists in this, that the former were introduced 
without any previous design, but were the result of 
providential occurrences, while the latter were ap- 
pointed with the express intention of being continued 
for several days, and hence, at first, were called 
" four days' meetings." The result of the one men- 
tioned above was, that one hundred and seven in 
the immediate neighborhood were brought into the 
Church, exclusive of those who came from a distance, 
and were benefited by the meeting. 

There was also a great work of God which began 
last year on Flanders' circuit, in the state of New- 
Jersey, under the labors of the Rev. Elijah Woolsey 
and his colleagues. Mr. Woolsey had proved himself 
a bold and hardy veteran in the cause of Christ, by 
volunteering his services for Upper Canada, in the 
year 1794, in company with Darius Dunham and 
James Coleman, where he labored for two years with 
much patience and industry, and saw the fruit of his 
efforts in the conversion of souls. In 1801 he was 
stationed on Flanders' circuit, and after cutting off 
those corrupt members of the Church who could not 
be reformed, he finally saw the blessed result of his 
labors in one of the most manifest displays of the 
grace of God ever witnessed in that part of the country. 
This work commenced at a quarterly meeting, at 
which it was judged there were not less than six 
thousand persons present. It seems that before the 
meeting commenced both brother Woolsey and the 
presiding elder, the Rev. Solomon Sharp, had a pre 
sentiment that the Lord was about to work at this 


meeting, and hence they went in the exercise of strong 
faith in the promises of God that it would be even so. 
When brother Woolsey arose to address the assembly, 
feeling " the word of the Lord like fire shut up in his 
bones," he informed them that God would work 
among them ; and accordingly a shaking and trembling 
began to be visible in the assembly, accompanied with 
strong cries to God for mercy. The meeting con- 
tinued until eleven o'clock at night, and some, indeed, 
remained all night in these solemn exercises. The 
work thus commenced spread throughout the circuit, 
and great was the rejoicing of the people, both among 
the young converts and the old professors of religion. 
This revival eventuated in the conversion of many 
souls, and created a hallowing influence on the sur- 
rounding population. 

In Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, the 
quarterly meeting which began on Christmas day, 
continued sixteen days, and terminated in the conver- 
sion of upward of one hundred souls. In the states of 
North and South Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware, 
the Spirit of the Lord was poured out among the peo- 
ple in such a manner that some of the meetings were 
continued day and night, and hundreds became the 
subjects of the grace of life. 

In Vermont, also, the good work was extended in 
many places, through the labors of God's faithful 
ministers. Joseph Mitchell, Joseph Crawford, Elijah 
Chichester, and Elijah (now bishop) Hedding, had 
been instrumental, in the three or four preceding 
years, of carrying the glad tidings of salvation to the 
inhabitants along the shores of Lake Champlain, both 
in New- York and Vermont, and had established many 


134 A HISTORY OF THE 11802. 

flourishing societies, which have continued gradually- 
increasing until this day. This year William Anson 
was sent to form a circuit on Grand Isle, and such 
was his success, that there were returned for the next 
year one hundred and two members of the Church. 

Montreal, in Lower Canada, was visited this year 
by Joseph Sawyer. He found a few persons there 
who had belonged to the Methodist society in the city 
of New-York before the revolutionary war, who 
received him cordially, and assisted him in procuring 
a school-room for preaching. A Mr, M'Ginnis and 
his sister, both unmarried, were among the first who 
attached themselves to the society in Montreal, and 
they remained faithful during all the vicissitudes 
through which Methodism was called to pass in that 
city until their death. 

The Long Point circuit, in Upper Canada, was 
formed the latter part of this year, chiefly through the 
labors of Nathan Bangs, who went into the work 
under the direction of the presiding elder of the dis- 
trict. In the towns of Burford and Oxford particularly 
there was a great work of God commenced under his 
labors which eventuated in the conversion of about 
one hundred souls. 

In the midst of this great work which was extend 
ing over the continent, and blessing thousands with its 
renovating influences, Bishop Asbury and his faithful 
colleague, Bishop Whatcoat, were moving among the 
churches, " as golden candlesticks," reflecting their 
lustre on all around them, and, by their example, 
exciting them to activity and diligence in the cause of 
God. In imitation of the primitive evangelists, these 
bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church itinerated 


through the extent of the work, east, west, north, and 
south, not neglecting the remotest settlements in the 
wildernesses. And that they might not interfere with 
each other, nor both travel over the same ground, we 
find them in the latter part of last year, after holding 
a council with some of their brethren, determining to 
meet the Virginia conference, and from thence accom- 
pany each other as far as the New- York conference ; 
after which one was to continue on east to superintend 
the conferences in that direction, visiting all the east- 
ern and northern states, and on through the western 
section of New-York state to Pittsburgh in Pennsyl- 
vania, and thence through the districts of Virginia, 
until he met his colleague at the Virginia conference ; 
the bishop who took the western tour was to pass on 
into the western states and territories, through Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina, 
and so meet, as before stated, in the centre of the 
work in Virginia. What a diocess was this ! Each 
bishop was to have a traveling elder to accompany 

According to this wise arrangement they shaped 
their course thereafter, spreading themselves as far as 
possible over the entire field of itinerant labor, and, by 
the aid of their traveling companions, preaching, 
wherever they came, to the people, and giving a vigor- 
ous impulse to the work of God. And as a sample 
of the manner in which their time was occupied, and 
the kind of fare they sometimes were obliged to put 
up with, take the following from Bishop Asbury's 
Journal : — 

* Asbury's Journal, vol. iii, page 43. 


136 A HISTORY OF THE [1802. 

" Why," says he, " should a living man complain ? But to 
be three months together upon the frontiers, where generally 
you have but one room and fire-place, and half a dozen folks 
about you, strangers perhaps, and their families certainly 
(and they are not usually small in those plentiful new 
countries) making a crowd — and this is not all — for here you 
may meditate if you can, and here you must preach, read, 
write, pray, sing, talk, eat, drink, and sleep, — or fly into the 
woods. Well ! I have pains in my body" — " which are 
very afflictive when I ride ; but I cheer myself as well as 
I may with songs in the night." 

It certainly may be said of those who " desire the 
office of a bishop" in connection with laborings and 
sufferings such as these, if they do not " desire a good 
thing," they at least desire an office, not for its tem- 
poral emolument, nor for the sake of the ease and 
worldly grandeur it confers. After speaking of his 
arrival in New-York for this year, he says, — 

" We advance toward the completion of four thousand 
miles for the present year. I have had great exercises on 
going through rain and continual labor ; but have been 
blessed with great peace by my good and gracious God." 

The following account of the conference which he 
attended in the city of Baltimore, together with his 
remarks respecting a portion of his journal which was 
printed during his life-time, is inserted as due to him 
as a writer, and to the benevolence of his heart as a 
superintendent of the Church, as they show, on the 
one hand, that he was not responsible for the errors in 
his journal, which all who saw lamented, and, on the 
other, that he rejoiced in the temporal as well as spi- 
ritual prosperity of the preachers under his care. He 
says, — 


" Monday, 5. We had a day of fasting and humiliation 
for the conference, the continent, and the Church of God ; 
I improved the occasion, and spoke from Acts xiv, 23. I 
was presented with a new impression of my journal ; it is 
very incorrect ; had I had an opportunity before it was 
put to press, I should have altered and expunged many 
things ; the inaccuracies of grammar, and imperfections of 
composition incident to the hasty notices of a manuscript 
journal, are preserved in the printed copy. On Monday 
evening the conference rose : all the demands of the 
preachers were answered ; money was advanced toward 
the purchase of horses ; to those who had distant circuits 
arid far to go, donations were made ; and nearly two hun- 
dred dollars very liberally sent to the Monmouth confer- 
ence, which is to meet in July next. Within the circling 
lines of this conference, we report to this sitting an addi- 
tion to the society of three thousand souls and upward, 
besides those who may have died within the last eleven 
months. John Pawson's letter, and fifty copies of a volume 
of sermons, came safely to hand ; his, and other letters, con- 
cerning the work of God, I read to my brethren." 

Among other tidings which came to him while at 
this conference, was that of the death of his pious 
mother, for whom he always felt a tender and filial 
regard ; and as she belongs, in some sense, to the his- 
tory of American Methodism, by having given birth to 
a son who was so closely identified with its interests, 
I think the reader will be pleased to read the follow- 
ing reflections which the bishop made on receiving the 
news of her death. The following are his remarks : 

" While in Baltimore, I received an account of the 
death of my mother, which I fear is true. And here I 
may speak safely concerning my very dear mother : her 


138 A HISTORY OF THE [1802. 

character to me is well known. Her paternal descent was 
Welch ; from a family ancient and respectable by the name 
of Rogers. She lived a woman of the world until the 
death of her first and only daughter, Sarah Asbury ; how 
would the bereaved mother weep and tell of the beauties 
and excellences of her lost and lovely child ! pondering 
on the past in the silent suffering of hopeless grief. This 
afflictive providence graciously terminated in the mother's 
conversion. When she saw herself a lost and wretched 
sinner, she sought religious people, but ' in the times of 
this ignorance' few were ' sound in the faith,' or ' faithful 
to the grace given :' many were the days she spent chiefly 
in reading and prayer ; at length she found justifying grace 
and pardoning mercy. So dim was the light of truth 
around her, from the assurance she found, she was at 
times inclined to believe in the final perseverance of the 
saints. For fifty years her hands, her house, her heart, 
were open to receive the people of God and ministers of 
Christ ; and thus a lamp was lighted up in a dark place 
called Great Barre, in Great Britain. She was an afflicted, 
yet most active woman ; of quick bodily powers, and mas- 
culine understanding ; nevertheless, ' so kindly all the ele- 
ments were mixed in her,' her strong mind quickly felt the 
subduing influences of that Christian sympathy which 
' weeps with those who weep,' and ' rejoices with those who 
do rejoice.' As a woman and a wife she was chaste, modest, 
blameless — as a mother (above all the women in the 
world would I claim her for my own) ardently affection- 
ate ; as a ' mother in Israel,' few of her sex have done more 
by a holy walk to live, and by personal labor to support the 
gospel, and to wash the saints' feet ; as a friend, she was 
generous, true, and constant. Elizabeth Asbury died Janu- 
ary 6th, 1802, aged eighty-seven or eighty-eight years. 
There is now, after fifty years, a chapel within two or 
three hundred yards of her dwelling. I am now often 


drawn out in thankfulness to God, who hath saved a mother 
of mine, and, I trust, a father also, who are already in 
glory, where I hope to meet them both, after time, and 
cares, and sorrows, shall have ceased with me ; and where 
glory shall not only beam, but open in my soul for ever. 

On account of some difficulties in the Church in 
the city of Philadelphia, which, it seems, could not be 
amicably adjusted, a number of the members with- 
drew from the Church, and established a separate 
place of worship, in a building which had been erected 
by Mr. Whitefield for an academy, and in which he 
used to preach whenever he visited that city. Hence 
these brethren were distinguished for a number of 
years as belonging to the Academy station. 

Believing them to have been influenced by pure 
motives, and as they adhered to the Methodist doctrine, 
and wished to be supplied with Methodist preaching, 
as well as to be governed by our discipline, the ques- 
tion was submitted to the conference, which sat in 
Philadelphia this year, whether or not the bishop 
should grant their request to have a preacher stationed 
over them. After mature deliberation, it was agreed, 
with only one dissenting vote, that their request should 
be granted, on such terms as the bishop could make. 
From that time forward the Academy was considered 
as a branch of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and 
it has been recognized and regularly supplied with 
preachers by the bishops and conference. And 
although for some time there was not a perfect union 
between them and thos'e brethren with whom the dif- 
ference originated, yet the disaffection gradually wore 
^way, and they both have continued to prosper and 

140 A HISTORY OF THE [1803- 

increase in number and respectability to the present 
day ; and it is believed that long since all alienation 
of feeling between the two sections has fully died 
away. Indeed, Methodism in the city of Philadel- 
phia has gradually increased in its resources, both 
temporally and spiritually, from the period of its in- 
troduction by Captain Webb, in 1766, until the pre- 
sent time ; and although it has had its share of diffi- 
culties to contend with, it has never been wanting in 
putting forth its energies in proportion to its means for 
the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom, both at 
home and abroad. 

The increase of members for the present year, 
which may be seen below, shows the blessed effects 
of the numerous revivals which we have narrated for 
the two preceding years. 

Numbers in the Church. 





This year, 





Last year, 





Increase, 10,889 2,971 13,860 51 

This is the largest increase in any one year since 
1790, when it was 14,369, being 509 more then 
than now. The friends of the cause had also reason 
to congratulate themselves on the greater proportion- 
ate stability and perseverance of those who had entered 
the ranks of the itinerancy, there being a much less 
number than usually heretofore who exchanged the 
traveling for the local ministry. 

1803. There were seven annual conferences this 
year, the New-England conference being held for the 


first time in Boston, and the New-York in Ashgrove, 
in the northerly part of the state of New-York. 

There was an enlargement of the work of God 
this year in almost every direction, and " many peo- 
ple were added to the Lord." The camp-meetings 
which had commenced in the west under such favora- 
ble auspices, continued to spread with increased use- 
fulness, thousands being attracted by the fame of 
their character, who otherwise might never have 
heard the gospel. This year they were introduced 
into various parts of the country. Two were held in 
tl*e lower parts of Virginia, the first in Brunswick 
county, and the second at a place called the Barn, 
at both of which the Lord manifested himself in 
great power and goodness to the people. 

Similar meetings were held in Georgia, South and 
North Carolina, and in Maryland, at all of which 
there were remarkable displays of the awakening and 
converting grace of God, so that it may be said in 
truth, there were great revivals of religion through all 
those parts of the country. At a field meeting held 
in the vicinity of Middletown, Connecticut, there was 
a gracious work of God commenced, which terminated 
in the conversion of a number of souls. 

This year ihe work extended in the western part 
of the state of New-York, and Otsego, Black River, 
Westmoreland, Pompey, and Ontario were added to 
the list of circuits in that part of the country. 

Samuel Merwin, Elijah Chichester, and Laban 
Clark, were this year sent as missionaries to Lower 
Canada; and Montreal, St. Johns, and Sore], were in- 
cluded among the stations on the minutes of con- 
ference. Mr. Merwin visited Quebec, but not meet- 


142 A HISTORY OF THE [1803. 

ing with much encouragement, he staid only about 
six r> r eeks, when he came to Montreal, and spent the 
remainder of the year there, while Mr. Chichester, 
who was in Montreal, returned to the United States. 
Mr. Clark, after encountering a variety of difficulties 
in striving to form a circuit in the settlements along 
the Sorel, was reluctantly compelled to abandon the 
enterprise as hopeless, and he accordingly left that 
part of the country, and spent the remainder of the 
year among his brethren in the United States. 

In the great revivals of religion we have noticed, 
many young preachers were raised up, who went into 
the world as flaming heralds, contributing much by 
the energy of their preaching, and the faithfulness of 
their pastoral duties, to diffuse the spirit of reforma- 
tion among the people. 

But the camp meetings were among the most effi- 
cient means of awakening the attention of the people 
to the things of eternity. 

As I have, however, heretofore entered so particu- 
larly into the details of the character and good effects 
of these camp meetings, it seems unnecessary to 
repeat them here, only to observe in general, that 
wherever they were introduced, similar effects fol- 
lowed, until at length they became very general 
among the Methodists throughout the country, and 
were often seasons of great " refreshing from the pre- 
sence of the Lord." 

Four preachers, namely, Lewis Hunt, Edmund 
Wayman, John Leach, and Anthony Turck, after hav- 
ing fulfilled their ministry with fidelity and usefulness, 
took their departure this year from a scene of labor to 
a world of rest, as it is recorded of them all that they 




died in peace and triumph. Fourteen located, and 
six were returned supernumerary. 

Until last year the stations of the preachers were 
printed under their respective districts, as Georgia, 
South Carolina, &c, without naming the conferences 
to which they respectively belonged. In the year 
1802 the name of the conference was inserted at the 
head of the stations, so that it might be perceived at 
once to what conference each district, circuit, and 
preacher belonged. This year the same method was 
observed in taking the numbers, by which means the 
relative size and strength of each conference might be 
estimated. The following is the recapitulation of the 

Numbers in the Church. 









S. Carolina 
























This year 






Last year 





Increase 13,542 3,794 17,336 33 

That we may see the comparative numbers of 
each conference in proportion to the extent of its 
territory, it is necessary to know the number of dis- 
tricts, circuits, and preachers of each, as well as the 
entire population of the territory comprehended in the 
bounds of each conference ; but as the conferences 










South Carolina 
























144 A HISTORY OF THE [1803. 

were not oounded by state lines, it is not possible to 
estimate the comparative population of each ; the 
following- table, however, will exhibit the number of 
districts, circuits, preachers, and members in the 
several conferences respectively : — 




By comparing the two largest conferences, Phila- 
delphia and New- York, we shall perceive that the for- 
mer had a population of as one preacher to about three 
hundred and twenty-five members, and the latter as 
one preacher to about two hundred and twenty mem- 
bers. This difference may be accounted for in the 
sparsity of the general population of Vermont and the 
Canadas, both of which were comprehended in the 
New-York conference, and although three preachers 
were stationed in Lower Canada, they were considered 
as missionaries sent to make a trial for the introduc- 
tion of Methodism, and from which no members were 
returned : whereas the Philadelphia conference, though 
it embraced much of the new counties in the north- 
ern part of Pennsylvania and in western New- 
York, comprehended also the older settled coun- 
ties along the western bank of the Hudson River, the 
Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, 
and New-Jersey, in some parts of which Methodism 
had, from its beginning, flourished more than in any 


other portion of our country. The peninsula of Ma- 
ryland especially was considered the garden spot of 
Methodism in those days. 

If we take the Western and New-England confer- 
ences, which are the two least, we shall find that the 
latter had a population of as one preacher to about one 
Hundred and twenty-two members, and the former as 
one to four hundred and eighty-two. This difference is 
easily accounted for. In the western country, the 
Methodists were the evangelical pioneers among the 
people, and amid the great revivals which had originated 
at their camp meetings, they took the lead, and had 
already reaped a rich harvest of souls as the reward 
of their labors and sacrifices ; while in New-England, 
though the general population of the country was 
more dense than in the west, the Methodists had 
many sorts of opposition to contend with, doctrines 
adverse to their own to encounter, the prejudices of 
education, and denominational jealousies to oppose 
their progress. On these accounts, Methodism made 
but slow advances in New-England ; those who first 
joined its standard were generally of the poorer class, 
able to yield but a scanty support to the preachers, and 
it had, moreover, to contend against a strong current of 
opposition which set in against it ; hence its members 
were comparatively small for several years. Indeed, 
it was not until the bands of sectarian bigotry were 
broken, and the bland influences of the gospel had in 
some measure softened the asperities arising from de- 
nominational peculiarities, that Methodism could stand 
erect and assert her liberties in New-England. 

From a review of the work for the last three years, 
we find abundant cause for thankfulness to the great 

Vol. II— 7 

146 A HISTORY OF THE 11803. 

Head of the Church for what he had done by the in- 
strumentality of his servants. Methodism began to he 
felt throughout the country ; and while it provoked 
the opposition of some, it had been the means of 
stirring up many other denominations to put forth 
their efforts for the spread of evangelical principles 
and holiness through the land ; and if " righteousness 
exalteth a nation," may we not believe that those 
great revivals of religion had a most happy and con- 
servative influence upon our national character ? Had 
those principles of infidelity with which the minds of 
many of the leading men of our nation had been in- 
fected, and which, at one time, were descending with 
fearful rapidity to the lower ranks of society, been 
permitted to operate unchecked by any other barrier 
than a mere lifeless form of Christianity, or those 
restraints which a secular and civil education might 
interpose, is there not reason to apprehend that such 
streams of moral and intellectual, as well as political 
pollution, would have poured their poisonous waters 
over the land, as must have washed our civil and reli- 
gious institutions into the whirlpool of destruction ? 

Without attempting to disparage other denomina 
tions of Christians, who doubtlessly all contributed 
toward checking the overflowings of ungodliness by 
making a firm stand against the secret workings of 
infidelity, it must, I think, be admitted by all who 
reflect impartially on the subject, that the labors of the 
itinerating Methodist preachers tended mightily to 
purify the corrupt mass of mind, and to awaken at- 
tention to spiritual and divine things, and to call off the 
attention of the people from mere secular and political 
affairs, to the momentous concerns of eternity. 


And may we not hence see a reason why God 
wrought in such a remarkable manner, about this time, 
at the camp and other meetings ? And why especially 
that he should have begun this work in the new coun- 
tries ? We know perfectly well, that in the settle- 
ment of new countries, being generally destitute of 
the ordinary means of grace, the minds of the people 
are apt to be occupied chiefly with temporal things, 
and thus, by habit, become forgetful of God and their 
eternal interests. In this state of things, and under such 
influences as were at work, our new territories were fill- 
ing and growing up. And who should go after those 
wanderers ? Who should follow them into the wilder- 
ness, and bring them into the fold of Christ ? Let this 
duty devolve on whomsoever it might, the Methodists 
were among the first to discharge it. Their mode of 
preaching, too, plain, pointed, searching, extemporane- 
ous, and itinerating from place to place, collecting the 
people in log houses, in school houses, in the groves, 
or in barns, was most admirably adapted to the state 
of society, and calculated to arouse the attention of a 
slumbering world to the concerns of religion. 

Such were the means employed, and such were 
the effects produced. And who will say that God did 
not lead to the adoption of this method as best adapted 
to answer the ends of redemption, namely, the salva- 
tion of the lost. To awaken the men of that gene- 
ration from their profound stupor, that they might 
shake off the slumbers of infidelity, and acknowledge 
the hand of God in their deliverance from the charms 
of error with which they were deluded, God, it seems, 
interposed in the remarkable manner before narrated, 
and by " signs and wonders" in the symbolical 



heavens convinced the people that he " ruled in the 
armies of heaven, and commanded among the inhabit- 
ants of the earth." 

By this means, as before said, the minds of the 
people were awakened to their eternal interests, religion 
became the topic of conversation, of inquiry, and inves- 
tigation, and thus that light was poured into the under- 
standing, and conviction into the conscience, which 
led men to see the errors of infidelity, the unsatisfying 
nature of a mere form of godliness, and to feel the 
conservative influence which vital, experimental, and 
practical Christianity exerts upon individual character, 
upon social and civil communities, and of course upon 
states and empires. 

What though the keen eye of criticism might detect 
some errors in doctrine or extravagance in conduct, 
originating from human weaknesses or unsanctified 
passions, — shall we cast away the good on account of 
the bad ? Who does not see that such a process 
would lead to the abandonment of every institution, 
civil as well as religious, on earth ? That thousands 
of sinners were reformed, in heart and life, the most 
skeptical must acknowledge. And a thoroughly re- 
formed sinner cannot be otherwise than a good citizen, 
a good ruler, husband, brother, and friend. To make 
Christian patriots, therefore, is to purify the political 
atmosphere from all poisonous exhalations, and to 
make it a healthful medium for the civil respiration of 
all who move and have their being within its circum- 

In addition to the direct influence which Christian 
principles were thus brought to exert on the heart and 
life, the itinerating mode of preaching had a tendency 


in the natural order of cause and effect, to cement the 
hearts of our citizens together in one great brother- 
hood. It is well known that our civil organization, 
into several state sovereignties, though under the par- 
tial control of the general government, naturally tend- 
ed to engender state animosities, arising out of local 
and peculiar usages, laws, customs, and habits of life. 
What more calculated to soften these asperities, and 
to allay petty jealousies and animosities, than a 
Church bound together by one system of doctrine, 
under the government of the same discipline, accus- 
tomed to the same usages, and a ministry possessing a 
homogeneousness of character, aiming at one and the 
same end — the salvation of their fellow-men by 
means of the same gospel, preached and enforced by 
the same method — and these ministers continually in- 
terchanging from north to south, from east to west, 
everywhere striving to bring all men under the influ- 
ence of the same "bond of perfectness ?" Did not 
these things tend to bind the great American family 
together by producing a sameness of character, feelings, 
and views ? 

And all this too without entering into the arena of 
politics at all, or siding, as a Church, with any politi- 
cal party. For it is a well-known fact, that the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church has never embarked on the 
rough sea of political warfare. She has left all her 
ministers and members free, to act as individual mem- 
bers of the civil community as they might list, only 
enjoining upon all a due submission to the " powers 
that be" — never attempting to dictate to any of her 
communion to what political party they should lend 
their influence, nor ever making civil polity the end of 


150 A HISTORY OF THE [1804. 

her exertions. The influence therefore, which she has 
exerted upon the civil destinies of the republic, has 
been altogether of an indirect and collateral character, 
growing out of that moral and religious stamp with 
which she strives to mark and distinguish all her 
children. That this conservative influence has been 
felt on the civil destinies of our country, originating 
from our religious institutions and the mode of carry- 
ing them into effect, is what is here contended for, 
and what, it is believed, all candid, impartial observers 
of the history of events and the connection between 
causes and effects must acknowledge. 

Being foremost in congratulating the first chief 
magistrate of our republic on his elevation to that 
high and responsible office, she has remained unabat- 
edly attached to the constitution of the country, incul- 
cating obedience to its magistrates and laws, and pro- 
mulgating those doctrines and enforcing those duties 
which, if believed and discharged, will ensure peace 
on earth, and lead ultimately to immortality and eter- 
nal life in heaven. 


The General Conference of 1804, and of the Annual Conferences 
of 1804-5-6-7. 

The fourth regular General Conference assembled 
in the city of Baltimore, on the 7th day of May,. 1804. 
There were present one hundred and twelve members, 
but as the seats of five were, on examination, declared 
vacant, because the persons were not legally there, 
the conference was composed of one hundred and 


seven members, namely, four from New-England, 
three from the Western, five from South Carolina, 
seventeen from Virginia, twenty-nine from Baltimore, 
forty one from Philadelphia, and twelve from New- 
York Conference.* 

Bishops Coke, Asbury, and Whatcoat were present 
as presidents of the General Conference. 

* This is the first account I find of the names and number 
from each annual conference. And as it may be satisfactory 
to some, the names are given, as follows : — 

New-England Conference. — George Pickering, Joshua 
Tajlor, Thomas Lyell, Reuben Hubbard. 

Western Conference. — William Burke, Thomas Milligan, 
John Watson, Lowther Taylor.* 

South Carolina Conference. — Josiah Randall, George 
Dougherty, Hanover Dunning, Moses Matthews, James 

Virginia Conference. — Jesse Lee, Samuel Risher, Daniel 
Hall, John Cocks, John Buxton, Humphrey Wood, Joseph 
Moore, Jesse Coe, Jonathan Jackson, Christopher Mooring, 
Daniel Ross, Samuel Gerrard, John Gainwell, William Allgood, 
Alexander M'Caine, Joseph Pennell, Philip Bruce. 

Baltimore Conference. — John Potts, Solomon Harris, Henry 
Willis, Enoch George, Hamilton Jefferson, Thomas Lucas, 
John Simmons, Jesse Stoneman, William Knox, Lawrence 
M'Combs, Joshua Wells, John Pitts, Henry Smith, Seely Bunn, 
Peter B. Davis, David Stevens, James Ward, Samuel Coate, 
James Quinn, Daniel Hitt, Daniel Fiddler, John West, Nicho- 
las Snethen, William Watters, James Hunter, Lasley Matthews, 
Thornton Fleming, Nathaniel B. Mills, James Paynter. 

Philadelphia Conference. — John M'Clasky, Thomas Sar- 
geant, Thomas Ware, Thomas Smith, Joseph Everett, William 
M'Lenehen, David Bartine, Richard Swaim, Joseph Totten, 
Anning Owen, Elijah Woolsey, William Vredenburgh, Robert 
Dillon, Gamaliel Bailey, Robert Sparks, Joseph Stone, Ezekiel 
Cooper, Walter Fountain, Benjamin Bidlack, \^lliam Colbert, 
William Mills, Joseph Jewell, Richard Sneath, Johnson Dun- 
ham, Edward Larkins, John Crawford, James Smith, Daniel 


152 A HISTORY OF THE [1804. 

After being organized, a motion was made and 
carried, that the conference proceed in the onerous 
task of reading and revising, in consecutive order, the 
entire Discipline, requiring, as before, that no old rule 
should be abolished without the concurrence of two 
thirds of the members present ; but a motion to 
require a vote of two thirds to establish a new rule 
was lost. The right of fixing the times for holding 
the annual conferences was invested in the bishops, 
provided thev should allow each conference to sit at 
least one week, while the places were to be fixed by 
the conferences themselves. 

The following provision was made in regard to 
presidents of conferences in the absence of a bishop : 
" But if there are two or more presiding elders be- 
longing to one conference, the bishop or bishops may, 
by letter or otherwise, appoint the president ; but if 

Ryan,* James Herron, Richard Lyon,* Jacob Gruber,* Solo- 
mon Sharp, Gideon Knowlton,* William Bishop, Eber Cowles, 
James Moore, Caleb Kindle, Morris Howe, George Roberts, 
William P. Chandler, David James. 

New-York Conference. — Freeborn Garrettson, Michael 
Coate, Ralph Williston, John Wilson, Daniel Ostrander, Augus- 
tus Jocelyn, Joseph Crawford, Nathan Emery, James Campbell, 
Aaron Hunt, Abner Wood, Joseph Sawyer. 

Of these one hundred and seven who composed that confer- 
ence, only eighteen are now, (Dec. 20, 1838,) in the itinerancy ; 
G. Pickering, D. Hall, J. Paynter, N. B. Mills, J. Moore, W. 
Burke, J. Wells, J. Quinn, D. Fiddler, T. Fleming, T. Ware, 
D. Bartine, E. Woolsey, E. Cooper, John Crawford, J. Gru- 
ber, D. Ostrander, and A. Hunt ; two have left us, and some 
others have located ; but most of them, together with the three 
bishops who then presided, are dead ; and fourteen of those who 
belonged to trite conferences hold a superannuated relation. 

* Those marked thus (*) were not entitled to a seat, by a 
vote of the conference. ,2 


no appointment be made, or the presiding elder 
appointed do not attend, the conference shall, in either 
of these cases, elect the president, by ballot, without 
debate, from among the presiding elders." 

To restrict the power of the presiding elders in the 
employment of preachers whose application to be 
received into the traveling ministry had been rejected 
by an annual conference, it was ordered that such 
should not be employed without the consent of the 
conference, " under certain conditions." 

Provision was also made for the trial of a bishop 
in the interval of the General Conference, making it 
obligatory on the accusers to present their accusation 
in writing, a copy of which must be given to the ac- 
cused himself. The bishops were, at this conference, 
prohibited from allowing any preacher to remain more 
than two years successively in any circuit or station. 
This has been a standing rule to the present time. 

As the articles of religion were adopted under the 
reign of the " old confederation," the article re- 
specting the government of the United States recog- 
nized the " Act of Confederation," as the general 
bond of union to the several states. At this confer- 
ence the phraseology of that article was altered so as to 
recognize the Constitution of the United States as the 
supreme law of the land, and th*e federal union of the 
states as a " sovereign and independent nation" which 
" ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction." 

The rule which made expulsion from the Church 
a penalty for marrying unawakened persons, was so 
altered at this conference, as to require that such 
should be put back on trial, with an explanatory note, 
stating that they did not prohibit persons from uniting 

7* 2 

154 A HISTORY OF THE [1804. 

in matrimony with those who are not members of our 
Church, provided they have the form and are seeking 
the power of godliness. 

The Book Concern, which had hitherto been carried 
on in the city of Philadelphia, was removed to the city 
of New- York, and Ezekiel Cooper was reappointed 
editor and general book steward, and John Wilson his 

A rule was passed recommending to the annual 
conferences to restrict our preachers from improper 
publications, making it obligatory on them to submit 
their manuscripts to the book committee at New- 
York, or to their annual conference. 

It was ordered that each quarterly meeting confer- 
ence should appoint a secretary to take down its pro- 
ceedings, in a book to be kept by one of the stewards 
of the circuit. 

It was ordered at this conference that the Discipline 
should be divided into two parts, the first part to com- 
prehend the spiritual, and the second the temporal 
economy; and the spiritual part was directed to be 
printed separately, more especially for the benefit of 
the colored members of the Church at the south. 

It seems that in the address of the Wesley an 
Methodist Conference to our General Conference, 
they earnestly solicited the return of Dr. Coke, whose 
labors among them they highly appreciated, more par- 
ticularly in the missionary department of their work. 
This subject was referred to a committee to' consider 
and report thereon, and they finally agreed to the fol- 
lowing, which was concurred in by the conference : — 

" Dr. Coke shall have leave from this General Confer- 
ence to return to Europe, agreeably to the request of the 


European Conferences, provided he shall hold himself sub- 
ject to the call of three of our annual conferences to return 
when he is requested, but at farthest, that he shall return, 
if he lives, to the next General Conference." 

In conformity to this resolution, the following let- 
ter was addressed to the British Conference : — 

" Very Dear and Respected Brethren : — Your very 
kind and affectionate address, from your Manchester Con 
ference, dated August 5, 1803, was presented to us by our 
mutual friend and brother, Dr. Coke. We always have 
received, and hope we ever shall receive such addresses 
frpm our European brethren, with the most cordial senti- 
ments of Christian friendship ; for it is our ardent wish 
that the European and American Methodists may improve 
and strengthen the bonds of Christian union, and, as far as 
possible, reciprocally build each other up in the great and 
glorious work, in which they are both so arduously employ- 
ed. And we pray God, that our adorable Jehovah and Re- 
deemer may graciously be pleased to prosper both you and 
us in the blessed work of proclaiming the honor of our 
God, and of saving the precious souls of mankind. 

" We truly rejoice in the information given us, that the 
gospel of Christ continues to prevail among you ; and that 
the mission among the native Irish is marked with hope- 
ful and nattering prospects. Also we are much pleased 
with the account of your prosperous mission in the princi- 
pality of Wales, in the Welsh language. Whenever we 
hear of the prosperity of Zion and of the success of the 
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, it gives us a pleasure far 
superior to our powers of expression : hence we are ready, 
upon such occasions, with overflowing hearts of love and 
gratitude, to proclaim with shouts of joy and gladness, 
' Not unto us, not unto us ; but unto the Lord' be more 
than human ascriptions of praise, of honor, and glory ' 


156 A HISTORY OF THE [1804. 

May the united labors of your hands be prospered more 
and more ! 

" We also feel peculiar satisfaction at the information of 
the union and harmony which subsist among you in doc- 
trine and discipline ; and that you, our elder brethren, are 
steadfast and persevering in the divine articles of the 
essential divinity and efficacious atonement of Jesus 
Christ, and of all the benefits and privileges flowing from, 
and connected with the same ; we cordially embrace the 
same important truths, and are determined to stand fast 
and immovable in the support of this essential foundation 
of all our hopes. 

" The Lord has greatly prospered our labors in these 
United States. We have at present increased to consider- 
ably more than one hundred thousand members ; and the 
work still goes on in a great and glorious manner. Our 
brethren are much in the spirit of active perseverance in 
this blessed work ; and, by the blessing of God, our 
hearts are cemented together in love, and are bound in the 
ties of harmony and unity. 

" With respect to our much-esteemed friend, and beloved 
brother, Dr. Coke, he arrived among us last autumn, and 
was received by us with the sincerest sentiments of res- 
pect and affection. Since he came into these states, he 
has traveled about three thousand miles, visiting our prin- 
cipal societies, and preaching to crowded assemblies of 
our citizens. His time, we trust, has been profitably and 
acceptably spent among us, and we hope agreeably to 
himself. Your request for his return was taken into our 
most serious and solemn consideration ; and, after a full 
and deliberate examination of the reasons which you as- 
signed in favor of his return, we have concluded that there 
is a probability of his being more eminently useful at 
present, in the way you point out, than for us to retain him, 
especially as our beloved brother Asbury now enjoys bet- 


ter health than he did some years ago, and as we believe, 
with the assistance he can receive from our esteemed 
brother Whatcoat, the work of superintending the Church 
and societies can be accomplished in the absence of Dr 
Coke. We therefore have consented to the doctor's return 
to Europe, upon the express condition that he will return 
to us at any time, when three of our annual conferences 
shall call him, or at farthest, that he shall return to our next 
General Conference. 

" And now, dear brethren, we commend you to our 
common Lord, and to the word of his grace, hoping that 
you and we shall ever remain in the unity of the Spirit; 
and bonds of Christian and ministerial affection, until we 
meet together around the throne of God. Pray for us. We 
are, very dear and much-respected brethren, truly and 
sincerely yours, in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

" Signed by order, and in behalf of the General Con- 
ference, " Francis Asbury, 

" Richard Whatcoat, 
" John Wilson, Secretary. 

" Baltimore, May 23, 1804." 

This year, for the first time, I find the boundaries 
of the several annual conferences fixed by the General 
Conference, and printed in the form of Discipline. 
They are as follows : — 

1. The New-England conference shall include the 
district of Maine, the Boston, New-London, and Ver- 
mont districts. 

2. The New-York conference comprehends the 
New-York, Pittsfield, Albany, and Upper Canada 

3. The Philadelphia conference shall include the 
remainder of the state of New- York, all New-Jersey, 
that part of Pennsylvania which lies on the east side 


158 A HISTORY OF THE [1804. 

of the Susquehanna River, except what belongs to the 
Susquehanna district, the state of Delaware, the 
Eastern Shore of Maryland, and all the rest of the 

4. The Baltimore conference shall include the 
remainder of Pennsylvania, the Western Shore of 
Maryland, the Northern Neck of Virginia, and the 
Greenbrier district. 

5. The Virginia conference shall include all that 
part of Virginia which lies on the south side of the" 
Rappahannock River and east of the Blue Ridge, and 
all that part of North Carolina which lies on the north 
side of Cape Fear River, except Washington, also the 
circuits which are situate on the branches of the 

6. The South Carolina conference shall include 
the remainder of North Carolina, South Carolina, and 

7. The Western conference shall include the states 
of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, and that part of 
Virginia which lies west of the great river Kanawha, 
with the Illinois and Natchez; provided, the bishops 
shall have authority to appoint other yearly con- 

A bare inspection of the map of the United States 
will show the immense territory included in each of 
these conferences ; and when it is recollected that the 
districts and circuits were proportionably large, it will 
be perceived that the preachers of those days were no 
" idle shepherds," but were emphatically laborers in 
this vast and fruitful field. 

These, with the exception of some unimportant 
verbal amendments, and some regulations in reference 


to the Book Concern, which will be noticed in another 
place, comprehended the doings of this conference. 
The conference closed its session in peace on the 
23d of May, and the members returned to their itine- 
rant labors with renewed ardor, determined to spend 
and be spent in the cause of Jesus Christ. 

It appears from the records of those days, that the 
introduction of camp meetings added a new stimulus 
to the work of reformation, and put, as it were, new 
life and energy into the hearts of God's ministers and 
people. They were accordingly appointed in almost 
every part of our work, and were generally attended 
with most evident manifestations of the power and 
grace of God. It was estimated that about one thou- 
sand souls were brought from darkness to light, this 
year, at the various camp meetings which were held 
in the states of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, 
Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New-York, besides 
those who were indirectly benefited by these meet- 
ings on their various circuits ; for generally, the 
preachers and people returned from the camp meet- 
ings with their hearts fired and filled with the love of 
God, and were a means of carrying the sacred flame 
into their respective neighborhoods, where it was en- 
kindled with fresh ardor, and burned with a steady 
blaze, consuming the sins of many a broken-hearted 

But while these extraordinary meetings were exert- 
ing a hallowed influence upon the older states, and 
were therefore hailed particularly by the Methodists 
as instruments of great good to the souls of the peo- 
ple, those in Kentucky ran into such wild excesses 
in some instances, as to bring them into disrepute in 


160 A HISTORY OF THE [1804. 

the estimation of the more sober part of the com- 

We have seen that some of the Presbyterian minis- 
ters were among the foremost in promoting these 
meetings, and in favoring the revivals which resulted 
from them. These, however, were opposed by many 
of their brethren, particularly those who held fast 
the doctrines of Calvinistic decrees, and blended with 
them the doctrine of irresistible grace, thereby aiding, 
indirectly, and without intending it, the fatalism of in- 
fidelity, with which the minds of many of the Ken- 
tuckians had been infected. Some of these ministers, 
in the judgment of those who have recorded the trans- 
actions of those days, were strangers to experimental 
religion, and therefore, when they undertook to 
instruct those awakened sinners who came, to them 
for advice, they knew not how to meet their cases, 
nor how to adapt their instructions to the peculiar 
state of their minds. This created perplexity and 
confusion. Those whose souls were alive to God, by 
having received a baptism from above, were disgusted 
with the awkwardness of those spiritual advisers, and 
finally considered them "physicians of no value.'' 
This led to disputings, and finally to a separation, 
which terminated in 1 803 in the formation of what was 
called the " Springfield Presbytery." But these preach- 
ers, however sincere and fervent they might have been, 
did not surround themselves with those guards which 
are essential to the preservation of harmony, ortho- 
doxy, and gospel order ; and hence those who were 
licensed to preach by this presbytery, puffed up with 
their sudden elevation to office, and breathing in an 
atmosphere which inflated them with spiritual pride, 


threw off the restraints of a wholesome discipline, and 
soon proclaimed those destructive heresies which are 
subversive of all true religion. The Springfield Pres- 
bytery was dissolved in 1804, and some turned 
Shakers, and others ran into the wildest freaks of fa- 
naticism. Hence originated those unseemly exercises 
so humiliating to recount, of jumping, dancing, jerking, 
barking, and rolling on the ground, by which these 
schismatics were at last distinguished and disgraced. 
And to finish the climax of absurdities, in the midst of 
this " confusion worse confounded," a company of 
Shaking Quaker preachers from the state of New- 
York came among them with their new-fangled doc 
trines, and "drew away disciples" after them. Seve- 
ral of these dissentient ministers and quite a number 
of members were, by these means, drawn into this 
vortex of error and confusion. 

Another thing which added to the evils so much to 
be deprecated by every friend to gospel order, was 
the introduction, by some men of eminent talents, and 
considerable influence, of the Socinian and Arian here- 
sies. These, indeed, were the precursors, in some 
measure, of the evils we have mentioned, and tended, 
by their soft and subtle speculations, gradually to sap 
the foundation of the Christian's hope, and to prepare 
the way for that wild confusion by which many minds 
became bewildered. These things, as before stated, 
tended to bring camp meetings into disrepute in 
Kentucky, and not a little to strengthen the cause of 
skepticism — an infidelity to which many were strongly 
inclined, and which always battens itself upon the 
foibles and faults of religious professors— a sort of 


162 A HISTORY OF THE {1804 

food exactly suited to the vitiated and voracious 
appetite of an unbelieving multitude. 

But while these things were transacting among 
those who slid off from the mountain of gospel truth, 
the Methodists generally, and most of the Presbyte- 
rians who had favored these revivals, descried the 
danger from afar, and gave the alarm to their people. 
The latter, however, separated themselves from both 
the old Presbyterians, who were supposed to be de- 
fective in experimental religion, and too tenacious of 
the peculiarities of Calvinism, and from those wild 
fanatics we have already described, and established a 
community of their own under the jurisdiction of what 
has been called " The Cumberland Presbytery."* 
These have continued to increase in numbers and 
respectability to the present time, and no doubt have 
exerted a salutary religious influence within the 
sphere of their labors. 

The Methodists, however, adhered to their stand 
ards, and promoted the cause of the revivals without 
involving themselves in the responsibility of those 
wild rhapsodies and unseemly gesticulations which 
hung on the skirts of the camp and other meet- 
ings in Kentucky. The union which had subsisted 
between the different denominations became, from va- 
rious causes, weaker and weaker, until finally each, 
arranging itself under its own standard, and using 
those religious appliances which were considered 

* This presbytery, which was not established until 1810, 
abjured the offensive features of Calvinism, adopted the Armi- 
nian doctrine of general redemption, the universality of the 
atonement of Jesus Christ, and dispensed with a liberal educa- 
tion as a necessary prerequisite of a gospel minister. 


lawful and expedient, endeavored to promote the cause 
of piety in its own peculiar way, without improperly 
interfering with its neighbor. And although, from the 
causes we have enumerated, camp meetings became 
unsavory in most places in Kentucky, their birth-place, 
they traveled into the new state of Ohio, and there 
displayed the banners of the cross with all that vigor 
and success which had marked their progress in Ken- 
tucky and Tennessee, and also without suffering a 
deterioration from the wild excesses heretofore depre- 
cated. What added to the beneficial influence of 
these meetings in Ohio, and tended to diffuse the spirit 
of reformation among the people in these new settle- 
ments, was, that many who had caught the sacred flame 
in Kentucky, from 1803 to 1806, as if impelled by an 
invisible power, emigrated to Ohio ; and while the 
Church was being sifted in Kentucky, and under the 
searching operation of a gospel discipline, much of 
the chaff was winnowed out, these pious emigrants 
were preparing a habitation for themselves and their 
children in a more congenial soil, better suited, from 
various circumstances, for the cultivation and growth 
of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. 

This year William Burke was the presiding elder 
of the Ohio district, and he contributed much by his 
labors and sacrifices to extend the Redeemer's king- 
dom in that newly-settled country. While William 
M'Kendree continued his labors in Kentucky, and ex- 
erted all his powers to check the progress of fanati- 
cism which he saw afflicting the Church, as well as to 
confirm the wavering and the doubting, Mr. Burke, 
aided by several young men of zeal and perseverance, 
was carrying the spiritual warfare into the enemy's 


164 A HISTORY OF THE [1804. 

territories in Ohio, and thus was preparing the way of 
the Lord in that rising part of our country. 

This year a strong effort was made to introduce 
Methodism into the town of Marietta. In many places 
in the adjoining settlements it had taken firm hold of 
the hearts of the people, and several flourishing cir- 
cuits had been formed ; but as yet no impression had 
been made upon the inhabitants in Marietta, the oldest 
town in the state, and in which the Congregationalists 
held the religious sway. This year a camp meeting 
was appointed by the Rev. George Askins, on the 
public land in the immediate vicinity of the village ; 
but though it was rendered a blessing to the people 
of God who assembled from a distance, no permanent 
impression appeared to be made on those for whom it 
was chiefly intended, and the meeting broke up with 
little hopes in the hearts of the preachers. They all 
agreed, however, to pray for an outpouring of the 
Spirit upon that place. The next year, under the 
superintendence of the Rev. Messrs. Jacob Young and 
George C. Light, another meeting was appointed, 
which was attended with the most blessed results ; 
and among others who were made partakers of the 
grace of life was a professed disciple of Thomas 
Paine, by the name of Jonas Johnson. The change 
wrought in him was great and visible ; and, being a 
most charming singer, by the exercise of his gift and 
nis general deportment, he exerted great influence 
over others, and was instrumental of much good. He 
committed his infidel books to the flames, substituting 
in their place the Bible and Hymn book, and other 
religious books, and opened his house as well as his 
heart to the messengers of salvation. A class was 


soon formed of happy believers, which continued to 
flourish and increase in strength and numbers, and to 
exert a hallowed influence for many years on the sur- 
rounding population ; and the church in Marietta, 
though at times suffering from the disaffection of some 
of its members, stands among her sister churches in 
Ohio as one of the stars to enlighten the minds of 
those who " sit in the land and shadow of death." 

While these things were going on in the western 
states the Lord was not unmindful of other parts of 
his vineyard. As has already been related, by means 
of camp meetings, which may be considered as usher- 
ing*in a new era in the history of revivals of religion, 
the work of God spread rapidly in many parts of the 
older states. In addition to the general notice already 
taken of those, we may remark that this year there 
was an encouraging revival in the city of Philadel- 
phia ; not less than one hundred souls had been con- 
verted to God, and brought into the fold of Christ, 
under the labors of Joshua Wells and his colleagues. 

In Bedford, Amherst, and Campbell counties in 
Virginia, and some other places, under the labors of 
Stith Mead, the Lord poured out his Spirit, and more 
than eleven hundred souls were brought into gospel 
liberty in about six months. 

In the province of Maine there was a gracious 
work of God in several places. This began at the 
conference which was held in the town of Buxton, 
upward of forty souls having been born unto God 
during the conference. In Bethel and Readfield the 
work of God prevailed to a considerable extent. In 
Mississippi there was a number brought to the know 
ledge of the truth. 


166 A HISTORY OF THE [1804. 

This year Benjamin Young was sent as a mission- 
ary to Illinois, which at that time contained but few 
inhabitants, and these chiefly descendants of the 
French, who first settled in Kaskaskia and Cahokia. 
in 1720. But though thus early explored by the 
French, and settlements commenced, the progress of 
the population in Illinois was extremely slow, as it is 
said that in 1800 the whole number of inhabitants 
was only two hundred and fifteen, and the territory 
was not erected into an independent state until 1818. 
Since that time, however, it has filled up with inhabit- 
ants with a surprising rapidity. The missionary so 
far succeeded in his labors that there were returned, 
on the minutes for the next year, sixty-seven mem- 

This year, also, Nathan Bangs solicited and obtained 
the appointment of a missionary to a new settlement 
on the River Thames,* in Uppe,r Canada. This 
place had long been on his mind as a promising field 
for missionary labor, and he had frequently offered 
himself to explore it in the name of the Lord, but his 
presiding elder objected, on account of the feeble state 
of his health and the unhealthiness of the climate. f 

While at the conference in New- York this year, he 

* This place was, through mistake, printed on the minutes, 
La French. 

t Perhaps no part of our country is more subject to fever and 
ague, or " lake fever," as it was called, than that along the 
banks of the River Thames, occasioned by the stagnant swamps 
which are formed a little distance from the river on each side, 
and the unwholesomeness of the water which the people were 
obliged to use. The missionary arrived there in the month of 
August, and in the month of September the fever began to rage; 
and during its progress, in almost every family less or more 


made known his desires and impressions to Bishop As- 
bury, and he appointed him a missionary to that place. 
He accordingly left the city of New- York in the latter 
part of the month of June, went into Upper Canada by 
the way of Kingston, thence up the country along the 
north-western shore of Lake Ontario to the Long 
Point circuit, and thence on through Oxford to the 
town of Delaware, on the River Thames. Here he 
lodged for the night in the last log hut in the settle- 
ment, and the next morning, as the day began to 
dawn, he arose and took his departure, and after 
traveling through a wilderness of forty-five miles, 
guMed only by marked trees, he arrived at a solitary log 
house about sunset, weary, hungry, and thirsty, where 
he was entertained with the best the house could 
afford, which was some Indian pudding and milk for 
supper, and a bundle of straw for his bed. The next 
day, about twelve o'clock, he arrived at an Indian 

were sick, and in some instances every member of a family was 
prostrated at the same time, though it seldom proved mortal. 

When the missionary first visited their houses, he was generally 
presented with a bottle of whisky, and urged to partake of it 
as a preservative against the fever ; but he declined the beve- 
rage, and told them they might, if they chose, drink their 
whisky, and he would drink water and tea, and see who would 
have the better health ; and when the fever commenced its 
ravages, as above described, so that he could visit scarcely a 
house without seeing more or less sick, he constantly traveled 
the country in health, until about the close of the sickly season, 
when he too was seized with the prevailing disease, but by timely 
remedies he escaped with only three paroxysms. This is 
mentioned chiefly to show the mistaken notion under which 
many people labor, who suppose that the use of ardent spirits 
is a preventive against any epidemical disease. It is believed 
that it induces it in nine cases out of ten, instead of prevent- 
ing it. 



village on the north bank of the River Thames, the in- 
habitants of which were under the instructions of two 
Moravian missionaries. While there the Indians 
were called together for worship, which was perform- 
ed in a very simple manner, by reading a short dis- 
course, and singing a few verses of a hymn. The 
missionaries and the Indians treated him with great 
respect and affection, and seemed to rejoice in the 
prospect of having the gospel preached to the white 
settlements on the banks of the river below. 

About 3 o'clock, P. M., he arrived at the first house 
in the settlement, when the following conversation 
took place between the missionary and a man whom 
he saw in the yard before the house. After the in- 
troductory salutation, the missionary inquired, " Do 
you want the gospel preached here ?" After some 
deliberation, it was answered, " Yes, that .we do. Do 
you preach the gospel ?" " That is my occupation." 
" Alight from your horse, then, and come in, will you?" 
" I have come a great distance to preach the gospel 
to the people here, and it is now Saturday afternoon, 
to-morrow is the Sabbath, and I must have a house to 
preach in before I get off from my horse." After a 
few moments of consideration, he replied, " I have a 
house for you to preach in, provender for your horse, 
and # food and lodging for yourself; and you shall be 
welcome to them all if you will dismount and come 
in." Thanking him for his kind offer, the missionary 
dismounted and entered the hospitable mansion in the 
name of the Lord, saying, Peace be to this house. A 
young man mounted his horse and rode ten miles down 
the river, inviting the people to attend meeting at that 
house the next morning at ten o'clock, A. M. 


At the time appointed the house was filled. When 
the missionary rose up, he told the people that when- 
ever a stranger makes his appearance in a place the 
people are generally anxious to know who he is, 
whence he came, where he is going, and what his 
errand is among them. " In these things," said he, " I 
will satisfy you in few words." He then gave them 
a short account of his birth and education, of his 
conversion and call to the ministry, and the motives 
which induced him to come among them, and con- 
cluded in the following manner : "I am a Methodist 
preacher, and my manner of worship is to stand up 
and*sing, and kneel in prayer; then I stand up and 
take a text and preach, while the people sit on their 
seats. As many of you as see fit to join me in this 
method, you can do so; but if not, you can choose 
your own method." When he gave out his hymn, 
they all arose, every man, woman, and child. When 
he kneeled in prayer, they all, without exception, 
kneeled down. They then took their seats, and he 
stood up and gave out his text, " Repent ye, therefore, 
and be converted, that your sins may be blotted 
out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the 
presence of the Lord ;" and he preached, as he thinks, 
with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Hav- 
ing concluded his discourse, he explained to his audi- 
ence his manner of preaching, by itinerating through 
the country, his doctrine, and how supported, &c. 
He then said, " All you who wish to hear any more 
such preaching, rise up" — when every man, woman, 
and child stood up. He then told them they might 
expect preaching there again in two weeks. 

Such a commencement, in a strange place, he con • 
Vol. II.— 8 

170 A HISTORY OF THE [1801 

sidered as a token for good. He then sent on ap 
pointments through the settlements along down the 
river, which he rilled in a manner similar to the above, 
and was everywhere received with great cordiality. 
He proceeded down the shore of Lake St. Clair, visit- 
ed Sandwich, on the Canada side of the outlet of the 
lake, crossed over to Detroit,* and preached in the 
council-house, thence to Fort Maiden, and down the 
shore of Lake Erie, in a settlement made up of Ameri- 
cans, English, Scotch, Irish, and Dutch emigrants. 
The people everywhere flocked together to hear the 

A more destitute place he had never found. Young 
people had arrived to the age of sixteen who had 
never heard a gospel sermon, and he found a Methodist 
family who had lived in that country for seven years 
without hearing a sermon preached. But although 
the people generally were extremely ignorant of spi- 

* Detroit, at that time, seemed to be a most abandoned 
place. On his second visit, the missionary was introduced 
to a Congregational minister, who told him that he had 
preached in Detroit until none but a few children would come 
to hear ; and, said he, if you can succeed, which I very much 
doubt, I shall rejoice. On the third visit, which was on Sab- 
bath, sure enough, only a few children came to the place of 
worship, and no one appearing to take any interest in hearing 
the gospel preached there, our missionary shook off the dust 
of his feet as a testimony against them, and took his departure 
from them. In about four weeks after this, the town was con- 
sumed by fire. The report was that it took fire from a man 
smoking a segar in a stable, and the houses being chiefly built 
with wood, the flames spread so rapidly that nearly every house 
on each side of the main street was consumed. 

It was, however, soon rebuilt, and has since greatly 
flourished, and now we have a large and influential church in 
that place. 


ritual things, and very loose in their morals, they 
seemed ripe for the gospel, and -hence received and 
treated God's messenger with great attention and 
kindness. He continued among them about three 
months, when he left them for the Niagara circuit, in- 
tending to return again soon, but was prevented. He 
was succeeded the next year by William Case, who 
was instrumental of great good to the souls of the peo- 
ple. Societies and a regular circuit were formed, 
which have continued to flourish and increase to the 
present time. 

Forty-eight preachers located this year,* two were 
expelled, and four, namely, William Ormond, Nathan 
Jarrett, Rezin Cash, and David Brown, had died ; 
having fulfilled their ministry with fidelity, they ended 
their lives and labors in peace. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year, 89,603 23,531 113,134 400 
Last year, 81,617 22,453 104,070 383 

Increase, 7,986 1,078 9,064 17 

1805. There were seven annual conferences held 
this year ; and the minutes were so arranged that the 
stations of the preachers, as well as the questions and 
answers, were printed under 'their respective confer- 
ences, so that it might be seen, at one view, what was 
the relative strength of each section of the work. 

* Among these was the Rev. Thomas Lyell, who soon after 
joined the Protestant Episcopal Church, and succeeded the Rev. 
Joseph Pillmoor, in the city of New- York. He is still living, 
and has maintained a reputable standing in that Church, and 
retains, it is believed, his affection for his Methodist brethren. 


172 A HISTORY OF THE [1805 

Nothing out of the ordinary course of things oc 
curred this year. The work of God went gradually 
on, and much good was accomplished by means of the 
ministry of the word in various parts of the country. 
The camp meetings spread more and more in the mid^ 
die and northern states, and they were generally at- 
tended with increasing interest ; many, from the 
novelty of their character being induced to attend, 
who might otherwise never have heard the sound of 
the gospel ; and not a few of these were brought to 
serious and solemn thought. 

This year, for the first time, a camp meeting was 
held on the Bay of Quintie circuit in Upper Canada, 
which was attended by the writer, being the first he 
ever witnessed. It was held in an open field, and the 
exercises were accompanied by a mighty display of 
the awakening and converting, as well as sanctifying 
grace of God. On the third day of the meeting such 
awful sensations were produced under the preaching, 
that many stout-hearted sinners were bowed before 
the Lord, while the people of God were "filled with 
joy unspeakable and full of glory." A great revival 
of religion was the consequence of this blessed meet- 
ing, particularly in the Bay of Quintie and Augusta 
circuits, which eventuated in the conversion of hun- 
dreds of precious souls'. 

In the state of New-York, among others, Croton 
had been selected as a suitable place for camp meet- 
ings, and for many years was considered as a hallowed 
spot on which the people of God from the city of 
New-York, and the neighboring circuits, assembled for 
the worship and service of the triune God. And 
here many sinners have been born of the Spirit, who 


perhaps, otherwise might never have heard the joyful 
sound of salvation. It has, however, latterly been 
abandoned for another place. 

This year the Church was called to mourn over the 
demise of some of her most eminent and useful 

Of Tobias Gibson, who first carried the gospel to 
the inhabitants of Mississippi, we have already spoken. 
He is represented as a modest, unassuming man, 
deep in Christian experience, and most indefatigable 
in his labors. His ardent thirst for the salvation of 
souls often led him to those exertions which were too 
much for his physical strength ; and these, together 
with his frequent exposures- in the midst of the west- 
ern wildernesses, to cold and hunger, and to sleepless 
nights on the ground, laid the foundation for those in- 
firmities which finally prostrated his feeble frame and 
brought him to a premature grave. 

He preached his last sermon on New-Year's day, 
in 1804. Its powerful and searching appeals were 
made a blessing to many ; and long did some of the 
inhabitants of Natchez, which was the principal theatre 
of his labors in the west, remember his fervent 
prayers and faithful admonitions, particularly of those 
which accompanied this his last effort for their salva- 
tion. Being greatly esteemed by the people of God, 
as well as honored by all who could estimate true 
worth of character, they mourned over his departure 
from among them, as one mourneth over a son that 
served him. But while they beheld his calmness of 
spirit amid the sufferings of his body, his meekness, 
patience, and resignation to the divine will, as death 
approached, as well as the firm hope of everlasting 


174 A HISTORY OF THE [1805 

life with which he anticipated his dissolution, they 
saw such indubitable evidences of the reality and ex- 
cellence of Christianity, that they could but mingle 
with their sorrows the rejoicings of such as have hope 
in God. Infidelity itself shrunk from an inspection 
of his life, and recoiled at a view of that death which, 
though dark and gloomy in itself, was surrounded with 
so brilliant a light as to render the path into the other 
world luminous and inviting. 

Such was Tobias Gibson — such were his .abors 
and sufferings — such his deep devotion to the cause 
of Christ — and such the peaceful and triumphant man- 
ner of his death — that he has left a name and charac- 
ter behind him which " shall be had in everlasting 

Nicholas Waiters was another of those burning 
and shining lights which, after having enlightened the 
world for a season, was this year extinguished by 
death. He was the brother of William Watters, the 
first Methodist preacher raised in America, and enter- 
ed the itinerating ministry very soon after his younger 
brother. They were natives of Maryland, and after 
traveling and preaching with great acceptance in vari- 
ous parts of Maryland, Virginia, North and South 
Carolina, and Georgia, on the 10th of August, 1804, 
he ended his life and labors in peace, in the city of 
Charleston, South Carolina. 

Wilson Lee also exchanged the labors of an itine 
rant minister for the crown of glory prepared for the 
faithful. He entered the traveling connection in 1784, 
and soon went into the western country, where he 
continued in the exercise of his ministry, exposed to 
all the hardships incident to an itinerating life in new 


settlements, until 1792, when he returned to the older 
states, and was stationed on Salem circuit, New-Jersey. 
From 1801 to 1803 he filled the office of presiding 
elder in the Baltimore district. In 1804 he found 
himself unable longer to do the duties of an efficient 
preacher, and was accordingly returned on the super- 
annuated list. In the month of April of this year, 
while at prayer by the bed of a sick person, he had 
a sudden discharge of blood from the lungs ; and from 
that time he lingered " along the shores of mortality 
until October 11, 1804, when he died full of the 
hone of immortality, at the house of Walter Worth- 
ington, Ann Arundel county, in the state of Mary- 

Wilson Lee has been considered among the most 
laborious, successful, and self-denying of our early 
ministers. Though naturally of a slender constitution, 
he hazarded the hardships of an itinerating life in the 
western country, and exhibited there all that self-de- 
votion, hardy enterprise, and untiring zeal in the 
cause of God, which distinguished those men of God 
who planted the standard of the cross among the early 
settlers of Tennessee and Kentucky. As he rode 
from one settlement to another, and from fort to fort, 
he was often exposed to the ferocious savages of the 
wilderness, as well as to hunger and thirst, to tiresome 
days and sleepless nights. But his unquenchable 
thirst for the salvation of souls, his strong faith in God, 
and his burning zeal to advance his holy cause, im- 
pelled him on in spite of all opposition, amid those 
" perils in the wilderness," rejoicing in being counted 
worthy to suffer a little in the cause of Christ. 
Here he spent the best of his days, and exhausted 


176 A HISTORY OF THE [1805. 

his strength in striving to win souls to Jesus Christ , 
and when he returned to his brethren in the older 
settlements, with a constitution shattered by the inten- 
sity of his labors, it was only to share with them in 
pursuing the path of obedience to his divine Master, 
and filling up what remained of the afflictions of 
Christ. Professing the justifying and sanctifying grace 
of God, he bore all things with patience, exhibiting in 
his spirit an example of meekness and gentleness, in 
his personal appearance of neatness and plainness, and 
in all his deportment modesty united with a firmness 
of purpose in carrying into execution the discipline 
of the Church. He, indeed, left nothing he could do 
undone which he deemed essential to promote the 
cause of God. But his ever active mind, his perse- 
vering industry in his Master's work, operated so pow- 
erfully upon the material vehicle, that " the weary 
wheels of life stood still," while in the meridian of his 
life and usefulness. He left, however, a name be- 
hind him, which was long remembered with affection 
and veneration by those of his cotemporaries who sur- 
vived him, and an example of devotedness to the 
cause of God which has stimulated many laborers 
to activity and diligence in cultivating their Master's 

Benjamin Jones, John Durbin, and Daniel Ryan, 
of each of whom it is said that he filled up his days in 
usefulness, took their departure to a better world in 
the course of last year. 

Two preachers, namely, Cyrus Stebbins and Roger 
Searl, withdrew from the connection, and joined the 
Protestant Episcopal Church. 


Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year, 95,629 24,316 119,945 433 

Last year, 89,603 23,531 113,134 400 

Increase, 6,026 785 . 6,811 33 

1806. The seven annual conferences were held 
this year in the usual manner. 

This year a paper was submitted to the annual 
conferences, beginning with the Baltimore conference, 
by Bishop Asbury, in favor of calling a General Con- 
ference, of seven delegates from each annual confer- 
ence, to meet in the city of Baltimore, in May, 1807, 
for the purpose of strengthening the episcopacy. 
This paper .was referred to a committee, to consider 
and report thereon, and all the conferences, except 
Virginia, reported in favor of the proposition, and 
elected their delegates accordingly. The report set 
forth that, in consequence of the declining health of 
Bishop Whatcoat, who was then supposed to be near 
his end, the great extension of our work over the con- 
tinent, and the debilitated state of Bishop Asbury's 
health, it had become necessary to strengthen the 
episcopacy, and likewise to provide for a more per- 
manent mode of church government. The report, 
therefore, recommended that each of the seven annual 
conferences should elect seven delegates to meet in 
the city of Baltimore the succeeding May, and that, 
when so met, they should have power to elect one 
bishop or more, and also to provide for a future dele- 
gated General Conference, whose powers should be 
denned and limited by constitutional restrictions ; for 
hitherto the General Conference possessed unlimited 

8* 2 

178 A HISTORY OF THE [1806 

powers over our entire economy, could alter, abolish, 
or add to any article of religion or any rule of Dis- 
cipline. As this depository of power was considered 
too great for the safety of the Church and the security 
of its government and doctrine; and as the assembling 
of all the elders, few or many, at the option of each 
annual conference, made the representation very 
unequal ; and moreover, if all came who had a right 
to a seat, involved a great amount of expense, time, and 
money, Bishop Asbury was exceedingly desirous, before 
he should depart hence, to provide a remedy for these 
evils ; and this desire was strengthened and excited to 
action at this time by the concurrent views and wishes 
of most of the oldest preachers in the conferences. 

It is proper to remark that this plan was concurred in, 
and the delegates were elected by all the annual confer- 
ences, until it was submitted to the Virginia conference, 
where, being warmly opposed by the Rev. Jesse Lee, 
who had great influence in that conference, a majority 
voted against its adoption, and so the whole plan was 
abandoned for the present — for it was the understanding 
that, unless all the conferences concurred in the measure, 
it should not be carried into effect. This defeat of a 
favorite project, so feasible in itself, and apparently so 
necessary to the prosperity of the Church and the 
perpetuity of her institutions, was a source of great 
grief to Bishop Asbury, as well as of regret to those 
who had concurred in his views. 

After the return of Dr. Coke to Europe, he saw fit 
to change his relation from a single to a married life. 
He had married a Christian lady of a large fortune, of 
deep piety, and of ardent devotion to the cause of God, 
which she evinced after her marriage by cheerfully con- 


secralingher income to advance the missionary cause, in 
which she found her husband, Dr. Coke, so deeply and 
zealously engaged. This fact he thought proper-to com- 
municate to his American brethren, together with a pro- 
position to become a resident in America, on the condi- 
tion that the continent should be divided into two parts, 
one of which to be under his superintendency, and the 
other under the superintendency of Bishop Asbury. 
This proposition was submitted to the several annual 
conferences, and an answer was returned to the doc- 
tor congratulating him on his happy marriage, but de- 
clining to accept of his proposal for a division of the 
work in this country according to his request, referring, 
however, the final decision of the question to the next 
General Conference. 

This year Methodism was introduced into some 
parts of Louisiana. This territory had been recently 
purchased by the United States from the French gov- 
ernment for the sum of fifteen millions of dollars, and 
was admitted into the Union in 1811. The country 
was originally settled by the Spaniards and French, 
the descendants of whom, to distinguish them from 
other white inhabitants who have emigrated to the 
country, are called Creoles. In a large portion of the 
country the French language and manners prevailed, and 
their religious faith arid practice were regulated by the 
Roman Catholic Church ; but as the country is fast 
filling up by Anglo-Americans, and has been for 
some time connected with the Union as an integral 
part of the great American family, the language, man- 
ners, and institutions of Louisiana are becoming more 
and more conformed to those generally prevailing in 
other sections of the republic. 


180 A HISTORY OF THE [1806. 

At the time, however, of which we now speak, 
there were comparatively but few American settlers in 
the country, and these were scattered thinly in the 
wilderness or mingled among the French and Spanish 
inhabitants. As to true religion, it was a stranger to 
most of the people. Those who made any profession 
at all were chiefly of the Roman Catholic communion, 
and these were exceedingly loose in their morals, and 
much given up to sports and plays. The Sabbath 
was neglected as a day of sacred rest, or only attended 
to as a religious festival, alternately for devotional ex- 
ercises and profane revelry. This being the general 
state of society as formed by the Creoles of the coun- 
try, it could not be otherwise expected than that the 
emigrants who settled among them should gradually 
assimilate to their manners, modes of thinking and 
acting. Hence it is stated that profaneness of almost 
all sorts prevailed to an alarming extent, when, in 1806, 
the Rev. Elisha W. Bowman made his entrance among 
them as a messenger of the cross of Christ. 

The Mississippi district was this year under the 
presiding eldership of the Rev. Learner Blackman, 
whose charge included Natchez, Wilkinson, Claiborne, 
Ochitta, and Appalousas circuits, to the last of which 
Mr. Bowman was sent, with a view, if practicable, to 
form societies and establish regular preaching. He 
penetrated into some of the English settlements on the 
banks of the Mississippi River, amid many pri- 
vations and hardships, and in some places was received 
by the people with gladness, while in others both him- 
self and his message were rejected. He succeeded, 
however, in collecting congregations, and in forming a 
regular circuit, and a few classes, made up principally 


of members who had removed from the older states, 
who were happily reclaimed from their backslidden 
state by his instrumentality. The Rev. Thomas 
Lasley labored on the Ochitta circuit, which he 
found in a similar condition, in respect to religion and 
morals, to that of Appalousas. The success with 
which they cultivated this distant and wild field of 
labor may be estimated from the fact that they 
returned forty members of the Church, and that they 
opened the way for the successful prosecution of the 
work by those who succeeded them, though it was 
some time before Methodism gained much influence 
in that part of the country. 

This year a new district was formed, called the 
Lower Canada district, which included Montreal, 
Quebec, and Ottawa. I have before spoken of Mon- 
treal and Ottawa. Nathan Bangs volunteered his 
services for Quebec. After spending a few weeks in 
Montreal, to supply them until their preacher, Samuel 
Coate, arrived, he sailed down the River St. Lawrence 
for Quebec, and arrived there on Saturday morning. 
Having a few letters of introduction, he delivered 
them, and by great exertions succeeded in hiring a 
room and getting it seated that day, and he preached his 
first sermon on the Sabbath morning following to a 
tolerable congregation. 

The majority of the people in Quebec were French 
Roman Catholics, bigotedly attached to all their pe- 
culiarities, and, of course, opposed to all Protestant 
innovations. The next in number and influence were 
the members of the Church of England, and next to 
them the Church of Scotland, all manifesting a deadly 
opposition to Methodism. He found, however, a few 


182 A HISTORY OF THE [1806 

who received him cordially, though with much 
timidity. Among others he called on a Scotch mis- 
sionary by the name of Dick, who had succeeded in 
collecting a small congregation, and was treated by 
him with much affection and respect. 

It would doubtless be uninteresting to the reader 
to enter into a detail of the difficulties with which he 
had to contend, the mental trials he underwent in 
striving to plant the gospel in that hardened place, 
with but small means of support,* and few to coun- 
tenance his undertaking. For a while the congregation 
was respectable, as to numbers, but they soon dwindled 
down to not more than a dozen steadv hearers, and 
not more than three or four of these seemed to b& 
under religious impressions. He has frequently 
held a prayer meeting with only one besides himself, 
when each would pray and then dismiss the meeting, 
though inwardly conscious of the divine approbation, 
yet with but faint hopes of success. He, however, 
formed a small society, which, under more faithful 
and skilful laborers, has since increased to a consider- 
able number, and Methodism has now a firm stand- 
ing in Quebec. 

An attempt was also made this year to establish a 
mission for the benefit of the French Catholic popu- 
lation of Lower Canada, and William Snyder, who 
understood and could preach in the French language, 
was appointed to this service. He entered upon his 

* In those days we had no missionary society to furnish pe- 
cuniary aid to those preachers who went to " break up new 
ground," as it was called, though Bishop Asbury was in the 
habit of begging as he passed through the country to supply 
the wants of the most needy. 


work in a French settlement, in the vicinity of Ottawa 
River, and for a time was cordially received and list- 
ened to with much attention, so that great hopes were 
entertained of a successful issue of his labors. Hav- 
ing occasion, however, to be absent from his field of 
labor for a few weeks, the parish priest took the op- 
portunity to go among the people and warn them of 
the danger of hearing the " Protestant heretic," 
threatening them with excommunication — which, in 
their estimation, was a sure prelude to damnation — 
if they did not desist. This so wrought upon their 
fears, that, upon the return of brother Snyder, not a 
soul dared to hear him or to receive him into his 
house. He was, therefore, reluctantly compelled to 
abandon the enterprise in despair, nor has any thing 
been done effectually for those people since. The 
charms of Roman Catholicism still hold them in bond- 
age to their priests. * 

In Massachusetts also, and in the province of 
Maine, the work so extended that New-Bedford, 
Northfield, Centreharbor, Durham, and Vassalborough 
circuits were formed, while the work in many places 
on the older circuits was going forward with encourag- 
ing prosperity. Monongdhela, Lycoming, and Staun- 
ton circuits, within the bounds of the Baltimore con- 
ference, were this year added to the list, which shows 
that the good work was still extending in the frontier 

But the most remarkable outpouring of the Spirit 
was among the people on the Eastern Shore of Mary- 
land, and in some parts of Virginia, chiefly through the 
agency of a camp meeting which was held on the 
Eastern Shore at which, during the five days and 


184 A HISTORY OF THE [1806. 

nights it continued, it is stated that not less than one 
thousand souls were converted. This had been a 
favored place for Methodism from the time of its intro- 
duction; and this great work gave it a new impulse, 
and added fresh vigor to the souls of God's ministers 
and people. Religion, indeed, prospered generally 
throughout the bounds of the conferences, as may be 
seen from the increase of church members. 

Bishop Asbury, though deprived of the aid of his 
devoted colleague in consequence of sickness, attended 
to his duties with his usual diligence, and was much 
cheered with the prospects which loomed up before 
him in various parts of the work, more especially by 
the agency of the camp meetings, many of which he 
attended, and entered into their exercises with all the 
ardor of a youthful minister. We find him this year 
in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, traversing the 
new settlements, and encouraging his brethren and 
sons in the ministry, by his presence and example. 
Being in the state of Kentucky during one of their 
camp meetings, he says, " I ventured on the camp 
ground again, and preached at eight o'clock. I was 
weak and unwell, but was divinely assisted while en- 
larging on Philip, i, 1 . May this weighty subject rest 
on the minds of the preachers, and on none more than 
the heart of the speaker !" 

After speaking of the Western conference, he says, 
" The brethren were in want, and could not suit 
themselves ; so I parted with my watch, my coat, and 
my shirt." This was an instance of generosity rarely 
to be met with, and shows the deep interest he felt for 
his suffering fellow-laborers in that rugged field. 

Finishing his work in this part of his charge, he 


recrossed the Alleghany Mountains, in doing which, 
he says, " One of the descents is like the roof of a 
house for nearly a mile. I rode, I walked, I sweat, 
I trembled, and my old knees failed. Here are gullies, 
and rocks, and precipices; nevertheless, the way is as 
good as the path over the Table Mountain — bad is 
the best." He passed on through North and South 
Carolina, and in the city of Charleston he rested for a 
few days from his toils, though he says that he was 
"neither unemployed nor triflingly," but was happy in 
the midst of his friends, and surrounded by all the com- 
forts which kindness could bestow." " If we call," 
he remarks, " for social prayer seven times a day, 
there are none to complain; the house is our own, 
and profane people board not with us. My time is 
spent in reading, writing, and receiving all who come, 
whites and Africans" — "God the Lord is here." 
What a contrast between his external comforts here, 
and those which he enjoyed in many other places ! 
But while he could say in every place, "God the 
Lord is here," he could not be otherwise than happy 
and contented inwardly. 

Among the deaths of preachers which occurred 
this year was that of Bishop Wkatcoat, who departed 
this life at the house of Richard Bassett, Esq., ex- 
governor of the state of Delaware, on the 5th of July, 
1806, in the seventy-first year of his age. Of his 
early life, conversion, and call to the ministry, we 
have already spoken, when giving an account of his 
election and consecration to the episcopal office. 
From that important period of his life, he gave " full 
proof of his ministry," fulfilling his high trust with 
fidelity, honored and beloved by all who knew him. 

186 A HISTORY OF THE [1806. 

From the time of his entrance upon his work as an 
itinerant superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, until he was disabled by sickness and debility, 
he traveled regularly through his vast diocese, which 
extended over the entire continent, preaching almost 
every day to the people, visiting the annual confer- 
ences, sometimes in company with his venerable col- 
league, Bishop Asbury, and sometimes alone, dis- 
charging his responsible duties with marked satisfac- 
tion to all concerned. A complication of painful 
diseases arrested his career of usefulness, and com- 
pelled him to remit those public labors in which his 
soul had so long delighted. For thirteen weeks he 
bore, with the most exemplary patience, and devout 
resignation to the divine will, the excruciating pains 
with which his body was afflicted, expressing, in the 
midst of them all, his faith in Christ and his firm hope 
of everlasting life, and finally triumphed over the "last 
enemy," being " more than a conqueror through Him 
who loved him." 

Bishop Asbury, some time after Bishop Whatcoat's 
death, visiting the place of his sepulture, at the Wesley 
Chapel, in Dover, Del., preached his funeral sermon 
from 2 Tim. iii, 10, " But thou hast fully known my 
doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, 
charity, patience." In the course of his sermon he 
remarked, in substance, " I have known Richard 
Whatcoat, from the time I was fourteen years of age 
to sixty-two years most intimately, and have tried him 
most accurately in respect to the soundness of his 
faith, on the doctrines of human depravity, the com- 
plete and general atonement of Jesus Christ, the in- 
sufficiency of either moral or ceremonial righteousness 



for justification, in opposition to faith alone in the merit 
and righteousness of Christ, and the doctrine of regene- 
ration and sanctification. I have also known his man- 
ner of life, at all times and places, before the people, 
both as a Christian and a minister ; his long-suffering, 
for he was a man of great affliction, both of body and 
mind, having been exercised with severe diseases and 
great labors." And from this intimate acquaintance 
with the man and his work, the bishop declares, that 
such was his unabated charity, his ardent love to God 
and man, his patience and resignation amid the una- 
voidable ills of life, that he always exemplified the 
tempers and conduct of a most devoted servant of God, 
and of an exemplary Christian minister. 

As he had lived for God alone, and had assiduously 
consecrated all his time and powers to the service of 
his church, so he had neither time nor inclination to 
" lay up treasures upon earth" — hence it is stated 
that he died with less property than was sufficient to 
defray the expenses of his funeral. He could there- 
fore say more in truth than most of the pretended suc- 
cessors of St. Peter, who is claimed by some as the 
first link in the episcopal succession, " Silver and gold 
have I none, but such as I have," " my soul and body's 
powers," I cheerfully consecrate to the service of God 
and man. 

These remarks of themselves sufficiently indicate 
the character of the deceased, without saying any thing 
more ; yet it may be proper to add that though we do 
not claim for him deep erudition nor extensive science, 
he was profoundly learned in the sacred Scriptures, 
thoroughly acquainted with Wesleyan theology, and 
well versed in all the varying systems of divinity with 

188 A HISTORY OF THE [1806. 

which the Christian world has been loaded, and could 
therefore " rightly divide the word of truth, giving to 
every one his portion of meat indue season." For gravity 
of deportment, meekness of spirit, deadness to the world, 
and deep devotion to God, perhaps he was not excelled, 
if indeed equalled by any of his contemporaries or 
successors. " Sober without sadness, and cheerful 
without levity," says the record of his death, he was 
equally removed from the severe austerity of the 
gloomy monk, and the lightness of the facetious and 
empty-brained witling. His words were weighed in 
the balance of the sanctuary, and when uttered, either 
in the way of rebuke, admonition, or instruction, they 
were calculated to "minister grace to the hearer." 
It is said, that on a particular occasion, when in com- 
pany with Bishop Asbury, the latter was complaining 
loudly of the perpetual annoyance of so much use- 
less company : Bishop Whatcoat, with great modesty 
and meekness, mildly remarked, " O bishop, how 
much worse should we feel were we entirely neglect- 
ed !" The former bowed an acquiescence to the 
remark, and acknowledged his obligations to his 
amiable colleague for the seasonableness of the reproof, 
but much more for the manner in which it was admi- 
nistered — an occurrence alike creditable to them both. 
His preaching is said to have been generally attended 
with a remarkable unction from the Holy One. Hence 
those who sat under his word, if they were believers 
in Christ, felt that it was good to be there, for his doc- 
trine distilled as the dew upon the tender herb, and 
as the rain upon the mown grass. One who had 
heard him remarked, that though he could not follow 
him in all his researches — intimating that he went be- 


yond his depth in some of his thoughts — yet he felt 
that he was listening to a messenger of God, not 
only from the solemnity of his manner, but also from 
the " refreshing from the presence of the Lord," 
which so manifestly accompanied his word. The soft 
ness of his persuasions won upon the affections of the 
heart, while the rich flow of gospel truth which drop 
ped from his lips enlightened the understanding. 

Such was Bishop Whatcoat. And while we justly 
attribute to him those qualities which constitute an 
"able minister of the New Testament," we present, as 
the distinguishing trait of his character, a meekness 
and modesty of spirit which, united with a simplicity 
of intention and gravity of deportment, commended him 
to all as a pattern worthy of their imitation. So dear 
is he in the recollection of those who, from personal in- 
tercourse, best knew and appreciated his worth, that I 
have heard many such say, that they would give much 
could they possess themselves of a correct resem- 
blance of him upon canvass. But as he has left no 
such likeness of himself behind, we must be content 
with offering this feeble tribute of respect to his 
memory, and then strive so to imitate his virtues that 
we may at last see him as he is, and unite with him 
in ascribing " honor and dominion to him that sitteth 
upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever." 

Benjamin Iliff also, after traveling about four years, 
in which he won the confidence and affection of 
all who knew him, was taken from his labors to his 
rest in heaven, bidding adieu to his friends with these 
words, " I have lost sight of the world. Come, Lord 
Jesus, come quickly." 

Two, namely, Ralph Williston, and Comfort C 

190 A HISTORY OF THE [1807 

Smith, withdrew from the Church ; the former con- 
nected himself first with the Lutheran, and then with 
the Protestant Episcopal Church, and was settled for 
some time in the city of New-York, whence he re- 
moved to the south. 

One, Sylvester Foster, was expelled, forty-eight 
were located, ten returned supernumerary, and six 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 103,313 27,257 130,570 452 
Last year 95,629 24,316 119,945 433 

Increase 7,684 2,941 10,625 19 

1807. Seven conferences were held this year, at 
which Bishop Asbury, being deprived of the services 
of his colleague, Bishop Whatcoat, was obliged to 
attend alone, and to discharge the duties devolving 
upon the episcopal office. Speaking of this hard toil, 
after traveling through Vermont, New-Hampshire, and 
part of Massachusetts, he exclaims, "Must I walk 
through the seven conferences, and travel six thousand 
miles in ten months ? " This, however, by the bless- 
ing of God, he was enabled to do, though it cost him 
many a wearisome day, in clambering the mountains, 
and crossing the valleys, in his journey from one extreme 
part of the continent to the other. In these journey- 
ings he was frequently compelled to lodge in taverns; 
but, whatever might be the character of the house or 
the people, he always made it a point to propose 
prayer in every place where he stopped, though it 
might be only for a breakfast or dinner, and seldom 
was he denied this privilege. In this way he per- 


formed the work of a missionary, in the most emphati- 
cal sense of that word. But that which he considei-ed 
more than a compensation for all labors and sacri- 
fices — sacrifices to which few modern missionaries 
submit, was the consolation of religion in his own 
heart, and the spread of the work of God in almost 
every part of the continent. 

This year John Trayis was sent to form a new cir- 
cuit in the new territory of Missouri. Missouri at 
that time was considered a part of Louisiana, and the 
first settlers were chiefly of the Roman Catholic per- 
suasion ; but the tide of emigration, which was then 
setting toward the west with a strong current, was 
rolling the inhabitants from the older states into that 
country with great rapidity, and every year with in- 
creasing numbers. Though this territory was not 
admitted into the Union until 1820, yet at this time 
there were in it not less than 16,000 inhabitants, 
about one-fifth of whom were slaves. Though on the 
western bank of the Mississippi River the land is low 
and swampy, and of course untenable and unhealthy, 
yet beyond this the lands rise in beautiful undula- 
tions, and when brought under cultivation, proved to be 
rich and fertile, and therefore invited the industrious 
husbandman to take up his residence on them. 

Though the population was sparse, the roads bad, 
and the people generally averse to the self-denying 
truths of the gospel, Mr. Travis succeeded in attract- 
ing the attention of some to the things of religion, and 
.he returned the next year, as the fruit of his labor, 
fifty-six members of the Church ; and the work of God 
has continued to spread through that south-western 
section of country, keeping pace with the extension of 


192 A HISTORY OF THE [1807 

the settlements as they gradually penetrated farther 
and still farther into the woods and prairies of 

Notwithstanding Savannah,the chief city in the state 
of Georgia, was visited by that distinguished servant 
of God, the Rev. John Wesley, as early as 1736, in 
the very infancy of the colony, yet it seems that no 
effectual efforts had been made since his departure 
amid the unmerited reproach heaped upon him by 
his enemies, to plant Methodism in that place until 
this year. Wesley left the town in 1737, and in 
1740 Whitefield, who succeeded Wesley, founded 
his orphan house, which remains only to tell the be- 
nevolence of its founder in connection with the failure 
of his project — for it has long since crumbled to 
ruins — but it appears that during the seventy years of 
interval from the time that Wesley left those ungrate- 
ful people, no opening was presented for the esta- 
blishment of Methodism, until 1807. 

It is true that, as early as 1790, Hope Hull was 
sent to Savannah, and he preached a few times in a 
chair-maker's shop belonging to a Mr. Lowry ; but 
such was the opposition manifested toward him that 
he was assailed with mob violence, and his success 
was small and the prospects very discouraging. He 
was followed, in 1796, by Jonathan Jackson and 
Josiah Randle, but they left the place without making 
any permanent impression. In 1800 John Garvinmade 
an ineffectual attempt to collect a society in Savannah, 
and though he succeeded, with many difficulties, in- 
inducing a few to attend his meetings for a season, 
yet he also abandoned the place in despair. The next 
attempt was made by a Mr. Cloud, an apostate from 


Methodism, but who assumed the name of a Me- 
thodist preacher for the nonce ; and though he 
attracted some attention for a short time, and even pro- 
cured from the corporation the lease of a lot on which 
he erected some buildings, yet he was soon forsaken 
by the people, and left to his own wanderings. This 
movement only tended to increase the existing preju- 
dices of the people against the Methodists, and accord- 
ingly rendered their future progress the more difficult. 

At the South Carolina conference held in Sparta, 
Georgia, December 29, 1806, the subject of making 
another attempt to establish Methodism in Savannah 
was" presented to the conference by a forcible appeal 
from some warm friends of the cause. Bishop As- 
bury, whose heart burned with intense desire for the 
prosperity of religion, and who always had his eye 
fixed on all important posts, pressed the subject upon 
the conference with great earnestness, and the confer- 
ence responded to the call with much cordiality and 
zeal. Commending the case to the Church for spe- 
cial prayer, Samuel Dunwody, at that time young in 
the ministry, but humble, bold, and zealous in the 
cause of his Master, was selected by the bishop, and 
sent to Savannah. He at first procured a small room, 
where he taught some children, and his ministerial 
labors were, for a time, confined to the family where 
he resided, to his school-room, poor-house and hospital. 
At the end of the year he returned twelve members, 
five whites and seven colored, as the reward of his 

Though a small beginning was thus made, it was 
some time before Methodism was established in Sa- 
vannah. The prejudices of the people rose high, and 

Vol. II —9 

194 A HISTORY OF THE [1807. 

the cause was much impeded by the imprudent con- 
duct of two of the preachers who succeeded Mr. 
Dunwody. But, after hard toiling, they finally suc- 
ceeded, by soliciting aid from various parts of the 
country, in erecting a house of worship in 1812, 
which was dedicated to the service of almighty God 
by Bishop Asbury, and was called Wesley Chapel. 
This took place about seventy-five years after the town 
was visited by John Wesley, and the spirit which 
vented itself in opposition to him seems to have de- 
scended to their posterity, and shown itself in similar 
acts of hostility to his followers ; yet by patient perse- 
verance in well-doing, this prejudice has been mea- 
surably overcome, and the cause of Methodism has 
taken a firm stand in Savannah, and is exerting a salu- 
tary influence on its citizens. 

This was a very prosperous year generally through- 
out the connection, and many were brought to the 
knowledge of the truth and added to the Church 
through various parts of the United States. In the 
older states the camp meetings w r ere multiplied, and 
attended with the most happy consequences, particu- 
larly in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and Georgia. 
In the city of New-York there was a remarkable 
revival of religion, attended, in some instances, with 
symptoms similar to those which had been exhibited 
at the camp meetings in the western country. 

James Lattomus and Peter Jayne took their depart- 
ure to a world of rest, leaving a testimony behind 
them of devotedness to the cause of God. Thirty-two 
were located, six returned supernumerary, eight super- 
annuated, and one, Nathan Felch, had withdrawn and 
connected himself with the Protestant Episcopal Church. 


Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 114,727 29,863 144,590* 516 
Last year 103,313 27,257 130,570 452 

Increase 11,414 2,606 14,020 64 

The General Conference of 1808. 

This conference assembled in the city of Balti- 
more, May 1, 1808, and was composed of one hun- 
dred and twenty-nine members, namely, nineteen from 
the New-York, seven from the New-England, eleven 
from the Western, eleven from the South Carolina, 
eighteen from the Virginia, thirty-one from the Balti- 
more, and thirty-two from the Philadelphia conference. 

For the first time since the organization of the 
Church in 1784, Dr. Coke was absent from the Ge- 
neral Conference, and as Bishop Whatcoat had de- 
ceased, Bishop Asbury was the sole president of the 
conference. After the organization of the confer- 
ence, by the appointment of a secretary and the adop- 
tion of rules for the government of its proceedings, the 
conference appointed a committee of correspondence, 
to take into consideration certain communications 
from the British conference, and from Dr. Coke, and 
to report thereon. 

It will be recollected that, in accordance with the 

* There is an error of nine in the printed minutes for thia 

196 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

earnest request of the British conference, the General 
Conference of 1804 had agreed to the return of Dr. 
Coke to Europe, and that he might have liberty to 
reside there until this General Conference, unless 
sooner recalled by three of the annual conferences. 
After his return to Europe, and after his marriage, he 
made a proposal, as before related, to come over, and 
take up his permanent residence in America, on con- 
dition that the continent should be divided as nearly 
equal as might be, between him and Bishop Asbury, 
as the superintending bishops. Though this proposi- 
tion was not agreeable to the American preachers, 
and therefore was not acceded to by them in their 
reply to Dr. Coke's circular, yet it shows most mani- 
festly the strong obligation which the doctor felt to 
fulfil his contract with the General Conference, and of 
his intention, provided his wishes were complied with, 
to make America his permanent residence in future. 

It seems, however, that the answer to his circular 
gave him some uneasiness, from an apprehension that 
his American brethren were dissatisfied with his con 
duct. To remove, therefore, all cause of disquietude 
from their minds, and to explain more fully his views 
and wishes, he sent to this General Conference, the 
following letter : — 


" City of Durham, {England,) Nov. 16, 1807. 
" Very dear and greatly respected Brethren : — 

" My absence from your solemn meeting calls for a 
minute explanation of my motives for absence, and my 
future views. I did not expect, during my different short 
visits to your connection, to have any thing to do in the 


management of your work, except the honor of presiding 
at your General Conference, and preaching in your pulpits. 
I never returned to England without your leave, from the 
time I offered myself to be wholly yours : and whatever 
my own private judgment might have been, I should, in 
every instance, have considered your vote as the voice of 
God, if you had, on the whole, judged it best to have refused 
that leave. The last time I visited you, I came over 
without any expectation of returning. I settled my little 
affairs in this country, and brought over with me every 
thing I had, except those parts of my library which I 
should not soon want, but which I left in such a manner 
tha,t on the shortest notice they might be sent over to m-e — 
and also such copies of my commentary as I wished that 
my European brethren would be so kind as to sell for me. 
I did not take a decisive farewell of my brethren in Europe, 
as I was not sure whether you would, in your circum- 
stances, as they respected Bishop Asbury, receive me as an 
efficient superintendent or bishop among you in any degree 
or manner : for this reason only I consented to carry over 
to you an address which contained a clause in it request- 
ing my return to Europe. I should otherwise have strongly 
objected to the clause : however, I repeatedly gave very 
strong intimations, both to the British and Irish confer- 
ences, of the improbability of my return. I write not the 
above as if I did not highly prize my situation in the Eu- 
ropean connection. As general superintendent of their 
missions at home and abroad, as president of the Irish 
part of the connection, as having all their pulpits in the 
United Kingdom open to me when and as often as I please, 
and in many other respects possessing influence for great 
usefulness, I feel myself under unspeakable obligations to 
my European brethren. But I have made the above ob- 
servations to convince you, that I held and kept my obli- 
gations and engagements to you, to strengthen your episco- 


198 A history or THE [1808 

pact/ whenever you pleased, most sacred. It is true, I 
wrote to you a circular letter, which, I now acknowledge, 
was out of order ; and therefore I beg pardon for writing 
it : but I did not intend to be irregular. I hardly knew 
what to write in order to bring matters to an explanation. 
For I was assured that you yourselves, after due explana- 
tion, would not wish to draw me out of a very extensive 
and successful sphere of usefulness, merely to preach ; and, 
instead of strengthening the episcopacy, have less to do 
in the management of the work than the preacher who 
superintends the smallest circuit in America. 

" And now, you will ask, ' What are we to expect from 
you.' I will answer with the most perfect candor. If it 
be your judgment and vote that my residence with you will 
probably assist to preserve your union ; and you agree that 
I shall have a full right to give my judgment in every thing, 
in the general and annual conferences, on the making of 
laws, the stationing of the preachers, sending out mission- 
aries, and every thing else, which, as a bishop or superin- 
tendent belongs to my office, I will, on receiving your an- 
swer, settle our affairs with the utmost expedition, and 
come over to you for life. You may observe, I do not de- 
sire any decisive power. I want no new condition. I only 
want to be perfectly ascertained, that if I reside with you, 
I shall be authorized by you to fulfil my office in the way 
above mentioned ; without which our reciprocal engage- 
ments would be a perfect nullity, and I should be entirely 
the same among you, except in the article of preaching. 
By this proposal I break no engagement : I want nothing 
but a full explanation, and a part of that liberty which I 
have in the European connection. In Europe, I give my 
judgment in the two conferences, and in the representa- 
tive meetings for preparing the stations of preachers for 
the conference, as far as I judge it my duty, on every 
point, and have also a vote when we do vote on any sub- 


ject. In missionary matters I am here allowed a negative 
and my committee a negative ; this last I do not desire in 
America ; but I desire the power of doing extensive good. 
If this cannot at present be granted by the authority of the 
General Conference, you may insert me in your minutes as 
formerly : or you may first insert the resident bishop or 
bishops, and add a N. B., Dr. Coke (or Bishop Coke, as you 
please) resides in Europe, till he be called to the States 
by the General Conference, or by the annual conferences ; 
or if this be not agreeable, you must expel me, (for drop- 
ping me out of youl public minutes will be to all intents 
and purposes an expulsion,) and leave what I have done 
for.your connection to God alone : and though you forget 
me, God will not forget me. 

" I do assure you, very dear and respected brethren, 
that I love and esteem you highly, and am, with most un- 
feigned sincerity, your affectionate and faithful servant, 

"T. Coke. 

" P. S. — My precious wife desires that she may not be 
considered in the least degree in this business. She is no 
hinderance to me in any thing, but a blessing in all things. 
We are always, as it were, traveling, and I annually visit 
and preach at more places than I did for many years be- 
fore my marriage." 

There was further cause of dissatisfaction with 
Dr. Coke. It seems that, in the spring of 1791, Dr. 
Coke, on the eve of his departure for England, ad- 
dressed a confidential letter to Bishop White, bishop 
of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Pennsylvania, 
in which he proposed a union between that and the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, on certain conditions, 
with which the officers of that Church did not see fit 
to comply. As several versions have been given of 
this affair, to prevent misunderstandings hereafter, I 

200 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

think it proper to give the letter of Dr. Coke entire. 
It is as follows : — 

" Right Rev. Sir ■ — Permit me to intrude a little on 
your time upon a subject of great importance. 

" You, I believe, are conscious that I was brought up in 
the Church of England, and have been ordained a presby. 
ter of that Church. For many years I was prejudiced, 
even I think to bigotry, in favor of it ; but through a variety 
of causes or incidents, to mention which would be tedious 
and useless, my mind was exceedingly biased on the other 
side of the question. In consequence of this I am not sure but 
I went further in the separation of our Church in America 
than Mr. Wesley, from whom I had received my commis- 
sion, did intend. He did indeed solemnly invest me, as far as 
he had a right so to do, with episcopal authority, but did not 
intend, I think, ihat an entire separation should take place. 
He, being pressed by our friends on this side of the water 
for ministers to administer the sacraments to them, (there 
being very few of the clergy of the Church of England then 
in the States,) went further, I am sure, than he would have 
gone, if he had foreseen some events which followed. 
And this I am certain of — that he is now sorry for the 

" But what can be done for a re-union, which I much wish 
for ; and to accomplish which, Mr. Wesley, I have no doubt, 
would use his influence to the utmost ? The affection of a 
very considerable number of the preachers and most of the 
people is very strong toward him, notwithstanding the ex- 
cessive ill usage he received from a few. My interest also 
is not small ; both his and mine would readily, and to the 
utmost, be used to accomplish that (to us) very desirable 
object ; if a readiness were shown by the bishops of the 
Protestant Episcopal Church to re-unite. 

" It is even to your Church an object of great importance. 


We have now above sixty thousand adults in our society 
in these States, and about two hundred and fifty traveling 
ministers and preachers ; besides a great number of local 
preachers, very far exceeding the number of traveling 
preachers ; and some of those local preachers are men of 
very considerable abilities. But if we number the Me- 
thodists as most people number the members of their 
Church, viz., by the families which constantly attend the 
divine ordinances in their places of worship, they will 
make a larger body than you probably conceive. The so- 
ciety, I believe, may be safely multiplied by live on an 
average to give us our stated congregations ; which will 
then amount to three hundred thousand. And if the calcu- 
lation which, I think, some eminent writers have made, be 
just, three-fifths of mankind are un-adult, (if I may use the 
expression,) at any given period, it will follow that all the 
families, the adults of which form our congregations in 
these States, amount to seven hundred and fifty thousand. 
About one-fifth of these are blacks. 

" The work now extends in length from Boston to the 
south of Georgia ; and in breadth from the Atlantic to Lake 
Champlain, Vermont, Albany, Redstone, Holstein, Ken- 
tucky, Cumberland, &c. 

" But there are many hinderances in the way. Can they 
be removed? 

" 1. Our ordained ministers will not, ought not to give 
up their right of administering the sacraments. I do not 
think that the generality of them, perhaps none of them, 
would refuse to submit to a re-ordination, if other hinder- 
ances were removed out of the way. I must here observe, 
that between sixty and seventy only out of the two hundred 
and fifty have been ordained presbyters, and about sixty 
deacons (only.) The presbyters are the choicest of the 

" 2. The other preachers would hardly submit to a re- 

9* 2 

202 A HISTORY OF THE [1808 

union, if the possibility of their rising up to ordination de- 
pended on the present bishops in America. Because, 
though they are all, I think I may say, zealous, pious, and 
very useful men, yet they are not acquainted with the 
learned languages. Besides, they would argue, — If the 
present bishops would waive the article of the learned lan- 
guages, yet their successors might not. 

" My desire of a re-union is so sincere and earnest, that 
these difficulties almost make me tremble ; and yet some- 
thing must be done before the death of Mr. Wesley, other- 
wise I shall despair of success : for though my influence 
among the Methodists in these states as well as in Europe 
is, I doubt not, increasing, yet Mr. Asbury, whose influence 
is very capital, will not easily comply ; nay, I know he will 
be exceedingly averse to it. 

" In Europe, where some steps had been taken, tending 
to a separation, all is at an end. Mr. Wesley is a deter- 
mined enemy of it, and I have lately borne an open and 
successful testimony against it. 

" Shall I be favored with a private interview with you in 
Philadelphia 1 I shall be there, God willing, on Tuesday 
the 17th of May. If this be agreeable, I will beg of you 
just to signify it in a note, directed to me at Mr. Jacob 
Baker's, merchant, Market-street, Philadelphia ; or, if you 
please, by a few lines sent me by the return of the post, 
at Philip Rogers's, Esq., in Baltimore, from yourself or Dr. 
Magaw, and I will wait upon you with my friend Dr. 
Magaw. We can then enlarge on these subjects. 

" I am conscious of it, that secrecy is of great import- 
ance in the present state of the business, till the minds of 
you, your brother bishops, and Mr. Wesley, be circumstan- 
tially known. I must therefore beg that these things be 
confined to yourself and Dr. Magaw, till I have the honor 
of seeing you. 

" Thus, you see, I have made a bold venture on your 


honor and candor, and have opened my whole heart to 
you on the subject, as far as the extent of a small letter 
will allow me. If you put equal confidence in me, you will 
find me candid and faithful. 

" I have, notwithstanding, been guilty of inadvertencies. 
Very lately, I found myself obliged (for the pacifying of my 
conscience) to write a penitential letter to the Rev. Mr. 
Jarratt, which gave him great satisfaction : and for the 
same reason I must write another to the Rev. Mr. Petti- 
grew. When I was last in America, I prepared and cor- 
rected a great variety of things for our magazines, indeed, 
almost every thing that was printed, except some loose hints 
which I had taken of one of my journeys, and which I left 
in my hurry with Mr. Asbury, without any correction, en- 
treating that no part of them might be printed which 
would be improper or offensive. But through great inad- 
vertency (I suppose) he suffered some reflections on the 
characters of the two above-mentioned gentlemen to be in- 
serted in the magazine, for which I am very sorry : and 
probably shall not rest till I have made my acknowledg 
ment more public ; though Mr. Jarratt does not desire it. 

" I am not sure whether I have not also offended you, sir, 
by accepting of one of the offers made me by you and 
Dr. Magaw, of the use of your churches, about six years 
ago, on my first visit to Philadelphia, without informing you 
of our plan of separation from the Church of England. If 
I did offend, (as I doubt I did, especially from what you 
said on the subject to Mr. Richard Dellam, of Abington,) 
I sincerely beg yours and Dr. Magaw's pardon. I will 
endeavor to amend. But, alas ! I am a frail, weak creature. 

" I will intrude no longer at present. One thing only I 
will claim from your candor — that if you have no thoughts 
of improving this proposal, you will burn this letter, and 
take no more notice of it (for it would be a pity to have 
us entirely alienated from each other, if we cannot unite in 


204 A HISTORY OF THE [1808 


the manner my ardent wishes desire.) But if you will further 
negotiate the business, I will explain my mind still more 
fully to you on the probabilities of success. 

" In the meantime, permit me, with great respect, to 
subscribe myself, right reverend sir, your very humble ser- 
vant in Christ, Thomas Coke. 

" Richmond, April 24, 1791. 

" The Right Rev. Father in God, Bishop White." 

The following is Bishop White's answer : — 

" Rev. Sir : — My friend, Dr. Magaw, has this day put 
into my hands your letter of the 24th of April, which, I 
trust, I received with a sense of the importance of the sub- 
ject, and of the answer I am to give to God for the im- 
provement of every opportunity of building up his Church. 
Accordingly, I cannot but make choice of the earliest of 
the two ways you point out, to inform you, that I shall be 
very happy in the opportunity of conversing with you at 
the time proposed. 

" You mention two difficulties in the way of the proposed 
union. And there are further difficulties which suggest 
themselves to my mind. But I can say of the one and of 
the other, that I do not think them insuperable, provided 
there be a conciliatory disposition on both sides. So far 
as I am concerned, I think that such a disposition exists. 

" It has not been my temper, sir, to despond in regard to 
the extension of Christianity in this new world : and in ad- 
dition to the promises of the great Head of the Church, I 
have always imagined that I perceived the train of sec ond 
causes so laid by the good providence of God, as to be 
promoting what we believe to be his will in this respect. 
On the other hand, I feel the weight of most powerful dis- 
couragements, in the increasing number of the avowed 
patrons of infidelity, and of others, who pretend to confess 
the divine authority of our holy religion, while they en- 


deavor to strip it of its characteristic doctrines. In this 
situation, it is rather to be expected, that distinct Churches, 
agreeing in fundamentals, should make mutual sacrifices 
for a union, than that any Church should divide into two 
bodies, without a difference being even alleged to exist, in 
any leading point. For the preventing of this, the measures 
which you may propose cannot fail of success, unless there 
be on one side, or on both, a most lamentable deficiency 
of Christian temper. 

" I remember, the conversation you allude to with Mr. 
Dellam : I hope I did not express myself uncharitably, or 
even indelicately. As to personal offence toward me, it is 
out of the question : for I had not at that time any connec- 
tion with St. Paul's Church. But this, as well as the other 
parts of your letter, may be discoursed of at the proposed 
interview. Therefore, with assurance of the desired se- 
crecy, a id with requesting you to accept a like promise of 
candor to that which I credit from you, I conclude myself 
at present 

" Your brother in Christ, 

" And very humble servant, 

" W. W."* 

It will be perceived that the above correspondence 
was considered by the parties concerned as altogether 
confidential, and was so kept, according to Bishop 
White's account of the transaction, until the summer 
of 1804, when he communicated the fact, in answer 
to their inquiries, to the Rev. Simon Wilmer, of the 
Protestant, and the Rev. John M'Klaskey, of the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church. " The matter being vari- 
ously reported," says Bishop White, " a copy of the 
letter was, after some lapse of time, delivered to the 

* Memoirs Protestant Episcopal Church, page 343. 

206 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

Rev. Dr. Kemp, of Maryland, and at last published 
in a controversy raised in the diocese." 

The letter being thus made public, it is not strange 
that many of the friends of Dr. Coke, and of the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church, to whom these things 
were unknown until now, should have been dissatis- 
fied with Dr. Coke, and demand from him an explana- 
tion. This called from him the following letter to 
this General Conference* : — 

" Near Leeds, (Yorkshire,) Jan. 29, 1808. 


" My Very Dear Brethren : — 1 wrote to you a letter 
about two months ago, directed to the care of my dear 
brethren, the Messrs Cooper and Wilson, in which I 
briefly opened my mind to you concerning my relation to- 
ward you, observing, to this purport, that if you judged that 
my being with you would help to preserve your union, and 
if I was allowed to give my opinion or judgment on every 
station of the preachers, as far as I chose, and also upon 
every thing else that could come under the inspection of 
the bishops or superintendents, you might call me, and we 
would settle our affairs in Europe as soon as possible, and 
sail for America, and be with you for life. Without your 
compliance with the latter point, viz., in respect to a full 
right of giving my judgment, I should be so far from being 
useful in preserving union, that I should merely fill the 
place of a preacher. 

" But there is one point more which I must also notice. 
I find that a letter which I wrote to Bishop White in 
1791 has been animadverted upon, though, if I mistake 
not, the letter itself has not been published. 

* This and the former letter to the General Conference, are 
among the documents of said conference, preserved in the hand- 
writing of Dr. Coke himself, italicized as herein printed. 


j " There are very few of you who can possibly recollect 
any thing of what I am next going to add. Many of you 
were then only little children. We had at that time no 
regular General Conferences. One only had been held 
in the year 1784. I had, indeed, with great labor and 
fatigue, a few months before I wrote this letter to Bishop 
White, prevailed on James O'Kelly and the thirty-six 
traveling preachers who had withdrawn with him from all 
connection with Bishop Asbury, to submit to the decision 
of a General Conference. This conference was to be held 
in about a year and a half after my departure from the 
States. And at this conference, held, I think, the latter 
end of 1792, I proposed and obtained that great blessing 
to the American connection, a permanency for General 
Conferences, which were to be held at stated times. Pre- 
viously to the holding of this conference, (except the gene- 
ral one held in 1784,) there were only small district meet- 
ings, excepting the council which was held at Cokesbury 
College either in 1791 or 1792. Except the union which 
most justly subsisted between Bishop Asbury on the one 
hand, and the preachers and people on the other, the so- 
ciety, as such, taken as an aggregate, .was almost like a 
rope of sand. I longed to see matters on a footing likely 
to be permanent. Bishop Asbury did the same : and it 
was that view of things, I doubt not, which led Bishop 
Asbury, the year before, to call and to endeavor to establish 
a regular council, who were to meet him annually at 
Cokesbury. In this point I differed in sentiment from my 
venerable brother. But I saw the danger of our situation, 
though I well knew that God was sufficient for all things. 
I did verily believe then, that, under God, the connection 
would be more likely to be saved from convulsions by a 
union with the old Episcopal Church, than any other way 
— not by a dereliction of ordination, sacraments, and the 
Methodist discipline, but by a junction on proper terms 


208 A HISTORY OF THE [1808 

Bishop White, in two interviews I had with him in Phila- 
delphia, gave me reason to believe that this junction 
might be accomplished with ease. Dr. Magaw was per- 
fectly sure of it. Indeed, (if Mr. Ogden, of New-Jersey, 
did not mistake in the information he gave me,) a canon 
passed the house of bishops of the old Episcopal Church 
in favor of it. Bishop Madison, according to the same in- 
formation, took the canon to the lower house. ' But it 
was there thrown out,' said Mr. Ogden, to whom I ex- 
plained the whole business, ' because they did not under- 
stand the full meaning of it.' Mr. Ogden added, that he 
spoke against it, because he did not understand it ; but 
that it would have met with his warm support, had he un- 
derstood the full intention of it. 

I had provided in the fullest manner, in my indispensa- 
bly necessary conditions, for the security, and, I may say, 
for the independence of our discipline and places of wor- 
ship. But I thought (perhaps erroneously, and I believe 
so now) that our field of action would have been exceed- 
ingly enlarged by that junction, and that myriads would 
have attended our ministry in consequence of it, who 
were at that time much prejudiced against us. All these 
things unitedly considered, led me to write the letter, and 
meet Bishop White and Dr. Magaw on the subject in 

" But it may be asked, why did I not consult Bishop 
Asbury, before I took these steps ? I answer, It was im- 
possible. I was at and near Philadelphia, and he was 
somewhere in the south. We had finished our district 
meetings, and he was to be in the state of Maryland about 
the time of my sailing for England. I wanted that every 
thing should be prepared against my return, God willing, 
in about a year and "\ half, for further consideration — that 
Bishop White, &c, should have time to consult their con 
vention — and that I might also lay the matter before 


Bishop Asbury, and correspond with him upon the subject, 
and after that, if proper, bringthe business before the General 
Conference, which was to be held in order to take into 
consideration James O'Kelly's division. Before I sailed 
for England, I met Bishop Asbury at Newcastle in the 
state of Delaware, (from which place I went on board,) 
and laid the matter before him, who, with that caution 
which peculiarly characterizes him, gave me no decisive 
opinion on the subject. 

" The next objection (and, I think, the only important 
one remaining) is the following : ' If you did not think 
that the episcopal ordination of Mr. Asbury was valid, 
why did you ordain him ? Was there not duplicity in this 
business V I answer, 

" 1. I never, since I could reason on those things, 
considered the doctrine of the uninterrupted apostolic 
succession of bishops as at all valid or true. 

"2. I am of our late venerable father Mr. Wesley's 
opinion, that the order of bishops and presbyters is one 
and the same. 

" 3. I believe that the episcopal form of church gov- 
ernment is the best in the world, when the episcopal 
power is under due regulations and responsibility. 

" 4. I believe that it is well to foliow the example of the 
primitive church as exemplified in the word of God, by 
setting apart persons for great ministerial purposes by the 
imposition of hands, but especially those who are appoint- 
ed for offices of the first rank in the church. 

" From all I have advanced, you may easily perceive, my 
dear brethren, that I do not consider the imposition of 
hands, on the one hand, as essentially necessary for any 
office in the church ; nor do I, on the other hand, think 
that the repetition of the imposition of hands for the same 
office, when important circumstances require it, is at all 


210 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

" If it be granted that my plan of union with the old 
Episcopal Church was desirable, {which now, I think, was 
not so, though I most sincerely believed it to be so at that 
time,) then if the plan could not have been accomplished 
without a repetition of the imposition of hands for the 
same office, I did believe, and do now believe, and have 
no doubt that the repetition of the imposition of hands would 
have been perfectly justifiable for the enlargement of the 
field of action, &c, and would not, by any means, have inva. 
lidated the former consecration or imposition of hands. 
Therefore, I have no doubt but my consecration of Bishop 
Asbury was perfectly valid ; and would have been so even 
if he had been re-consecrated. I never did apply to the 
general convention or any other convention for reconsecra- 
tion. I never intended that either Bishop Asbury or myself 
should give up our episcopal office, if the junction were to 
take place ; but I should have had no scruple then, nor 
should I now, if the junction were desirable, to have submit- 
ed to, or to submit to a reimposition of hands in order to 
accomplish a great object : but I do say again, I do not 
now believe such a junction desirable. 

" I have thus simply and candidly, though in few wordSj 
told you my whole mind on this subject. I do not consider my 
solemn engagements to you invalidated by any thing I 
have done, or you have done. But I charge you by the 
glory of God, and by every tie of love, gratitude, and can- 
dor, that you take no step which may injure my character. 
And now I conclude with assuring you that I greatly love 
and esteem you ; that it is a delight to me to pray for your 
prosperity, and that I am your very affectionate brother 
arid faithful friend, T. Coke." 

These letters, having been read in the conference, 
were referred to the committee of correspondence, 
who reported the following answer to Dr. Coke :— 


" Baltimore, May 25th, 1808. 

"Very Dear and Much-respected Brother: — Your 
letters of Nov. J 6th, 1807, and Jan. 29th, 1808, together 
with the address of the British Conference to our Gene- 
ral Conference, were severally read to us in our open 
conference ; and the different subjects therein contained 
were seriously and solemnly considered, in all their va- 
rious bearings and connections. 

" We have answered the address of the British Confer- 
ence in a separate letter from this, which you, as one of 
that body, will see. We have complied with their re- 
quest, in agreeing that you may continue with them, till 
you are called to us by the General Conference, or by all 
the annual conferences respectively. 

" Your two letters were respectfully received and had a 
"salutary effect upon our minds. The reasons which you 
have assigned for some former transactions, and the inge- 
nuous candor which you have manifested,, in frankly 
acknowledging and declaring the motives and induce- 
ments that led you to those measures ; together with your 
affectionate acknowledgment that in certain cases you 
were mistaken as to your views of some of the points in 
question ; as likewise your manifest friendship and good 
will to this connection and your American brethren, and 
your evident solicitude to retain a place and standing 
among us ; taking these circumstances collectively, they 
had a great influence upon some of our minds, in removing 
certain suspicious fears, which had been imbibed, rather 
unfavorable to your standing among us. 

" You may be assured that we feel an affectionate re- 
gard for you ; that we gratefully remember your repeated 
labors of love toward us ; and that we sensibly feel our 
obligations for the services you have rendered us. ' We 
hope that no circumstance will ever alienate our Christian 
affection from you, or yours from us. We wish to main- 

212 A HISTORY OF THE 11808. 

tain and to cultivate a good understanding and brotherly 
unity wiih you, and with all our European brethren. In 
full conference, of near one hundred and thirty members, 
we entered into a very long conversation, and very serious 
and solemn debate, upon sundry resolutions which were laid 
before us, relative to your case. Probably on no former 
occasion, in any conference in America, was so much 
said in defence of your character and to your honor as a 
ministerial servant of God and of his church. Your worth, 
your labors, your disinterested services, fatigues, dangers, 
and difficulties, to serve your American brethren, were set 
forth pathetically, and urged with the force of reason and 
truth, in an argumentative manner ; and our candid and 
impartial judgments were constrained to yield to the con- 
clusion, that we were bound by the ties of moral and reli- 
gious obligations to treat you most respectfully, and to 
retain a grateful remembrance of all your labors of love 
toward us. During the debate your name was mentioned, 
and your character spoken of with much respect and affec- 
tion. Our deliberations and arguments on this head ter- 
minated in the adoption of the following resolutions, viz: — 

" 1. Resolved, That the General Conference do agree 
and consent that Dr. Coke may continue in Europe till he 
be called to the United States by the General Conference 
or by all the American conferences respectively. 

"2. Resolved, That we do retain a grateful remem- 
brance of the services and labors of Dr. Coke among us ; 
and that the thanks of this conference are hereby acknow- 
ledged to him, and to God, for all his labors of love to- 
ward us, from the time he first left his native country to 
serve us. 

" 3. Resolved, That Dr. Coke's name shall be retained 

in our minutes, after the names of the bishops, in a 'N. B. 

Dr. Coke, at the request of the British Conference, and by 

consent of our General Conference, resides in Europe ■ 



he is not to exercise the office of superintendent among us, 
in the United States, until he be recalled by the General 
Conference or by all the annual conferences respectively.' 

"Your name is accordingly printed in the minutes which 
were put to press after the adoption of the above resolu- 

" We have elected and set apart our beloved brother 
Wm. M'Kendree to the office of a bishop or superintend- 
ent, and he has entered upon the duties of the office. 
Our venerable Asbury is yet spared among us, and, al- 
though he bears the weight of more than threescore 
years, he is able to travel and visit all the annual confer- 
ences. May his life be long preserved for God's glory, 
and the service of his church ! 

" We have, upon the whole, had great peace, harmony, 
and unity, during our sitting in General Conference : we 
expect to close in a few days ; and we trust in God that 
all things will work together for the divine glory and the 
promotion of the blessed work of religion. 

" Our next General Conference is to be May 1st, 1812, 
in New-York, and is to be composed of a select number, 
of one for every five members belonging to the annual 
conferences respectively. 

" We judge it proper to inform you, that our brother 
Ezekiel Cooper has voluntarily resigned his office as 
editor and general book steward. It was the wish and 
desire of the General Conference, that he should continue 
to serve trje connection in that important department ; but 
he has given us a final answer, that he declines the ap- 
pointment, and wishes another to be appointed to take his 
place. The conference have accordingly accepted his 
resignation, and voted their thanks to him for the great 
services he has rendered them, in that department, for 
nine years past ; and they have also voted their full ap- 
probation of his conduct in the management of the book 


214 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

business, greatly to the advancement of that concern, and 
to the benefit of the connection. 

" We have now chosen our brethren John Wilson and 
Daniel Hitt, the editors and general book stewards, who 
are to carry on the business in New-York as usual. You 
will therefore consider and understand, that our brother 
Ezekiel Cooper, of his own voluntary choice, has resign- 
ed, and is released from any responsibility in any accounts 
you may have with the Book Concern ; and that all your 
accounts and business with that department or the agents 
thereof are to be transferred to and done with the said 
John Wilson and Daniel Hitt in future. 

" We have had a glorious work in various parts ; we 
had an addition last year of 7,405 ; our connection now 
amounts to more than 150,000. Surely the Lord is with us 

" We hope, dear brother, that you will bear us in mind 
before the throne of grace. We shall certainly pray for 
our brother Du Coke, his beloved wife, and all our Eu- 
ropean brethren. May the Lord long preserve your life, 
and bless you with every necessary favor of Providence 
and grace to complete your felicity in time and through 
eternity ! 

" We 'are, very dear and much-respected brother, yours 
affectionately in the bonds of the gospel and unity of the 
Spirit of grace. 

" Signed in behalf and by order of the General Con- 

The following resolutions also passed the confer- 
ence in relation to his case : — 

" The committee to whom was refeired the case of Dr. 
Coke, taking into consideration the circumstances of the 
case, as it respects the request of the British Conference, 
the relative situation of the doctor, and the most prudent 
measures for us to adopt, in order to promote and perpetu 


ate a good understanding and Christian unity between us 
and our European brethren, are of opinion we should 
comply with the request made in the address of the British 
Conference for the doctor's continuance with them ; and 
also, that we should respectfully retain the doctor's name 
in our minutes, agreeably to his request in his second pro- 
position on that head — therefore, your committee report 
the following resolutions : — 

" 1 . Resolved, That the General Conference do agree 
and consent that Dr. Coke may continue in Europe ' till 
he be called to the United States by the General Conference, 
or by all the annual conferences respectively.' 

" 2. Resolved, That we do retain a grateful remem- 
brance of the services and labors of Dr. Coke among us ; 
and that the thanks of this conference are hereby acknow- 
ledged to him, and to God, for all his labors of love to- 
ward us, from the time he first left his native country to 
serve us. 

" 3. Resolved, That Dr. Coke's name shall be retained 
on our minutes after the names of the bishops, in a 'N. B. 
Dr. Coke, at the request of the British Conference, and by 
consent of our General Conference, resides in Europe : he 
is not to exercise the office of superintendent or bishop 
among us in the United States, until he be recalled by the 
General Conference, or by all the annual conferences re- 

" 4. Resolved, That the committee of correspondence 
be, and are hereby directed, to draft two letters, one to the 
British Conference, the other to Dr. Coke, in answer to 
their respective letters to us ; and therein communicating 
to them respectively the contents of the above resolutions.' 

The following address, referred to in the lettei 
above inserted, of the British to the American Me, 
thodist Genera] Conference, will show the state of 


216 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

feeling existing between the two bodies, and the earn- 
est desire the former had for the continued services 
of Dr. Coke :— 

"Very Dear Brethren in the Lord : — The pleasing 
account you gave us, in your last address, of the prosper- 
ity of religion in the United States, calls on us for the most 
lively expressions of thankfulness to God, who has so 
wonderfully displayed his love among you ; the more so, 
as we have heard, by very recent accounts, that the ope- 
rations of divine grace are continued, with increasing 
effect, on the hearts of thousands in your highly-favored 
country. May the Lord still prosper his blessed work, 
till the whole earth is filled with his glory ! 

" While we ascribe all the good that is done to God 
alone, as the sole fountain of light and life, we do not for- 
get the instruments which it pleased him to employ. The 
names of Asbury and Whatcoat are mentioned in our as- 
semblies with the greatest respect and affection. Mr. 
Whatcoat, we are informed, is called to his eternal re- 
ward. This is, doubtless, a very great loss to you, though 
to him an unspeakable gain. Yet,-you well know, that 
the glorious Head of the church, who saw good to remove 
him, can supply his place with a pastor after his own 
heart, equally qualified to superintend his mourning flock. 
The venerable Mr. Asbury, whose praise is in all the 
churches, is still with you, — a burning and a shining light. 
We never lose sight of the zeal he showed for the salva- 
tion of souls, at the hazard of his life, during the war on 
the continent, when all others forsook it and fled. To 
speak our sentiments on this subject, might pain his mind ; 
we therefore restrain ourselves, being well assured that he 
needs no encomiums of ours to recommend him to you ! 
May his last days be crowned with increasing success in 
his great ministerial labors ! 


" Respecting our union, dear brethren, we think of no 
separation from you, save the great Atlantic. Our dor- 
trine, and manner of spreading the gospel, are the same, 
and we mutually rejoice in each other's welfare. On this 
principle, we conclude, that you will greatly rejoice to 
hear of the flourishing state of vital godliness among us. In 
this kingdom, so long distinguished by every privilege 
congenial to real religion, there has been this year an 
increase of above seven thousand members to our Society, 
and near a thousand in Ireland, where the missionaries 
have been greatly blest in their arduous undertaking, par- 
ticularly in weakening the destructive influence of the man 
of sin, and, we trust, in hastening the total overthrow of 
idolatry and superstition. 

" What you have said concerning our present worthy 
secretary, the Rev. Dr. Coke, is no matter of wonder to 
us, who have long known his value, the honor which our 
Lord has put upon him, and have enjoyed the fruit of his 
labor. By a vote of our conference this day, he was re- 
quested to continue with us, in case his engagements with 
you, which he has repeatedly stated to us, should admit 
of it. 

" Our conference has been numerous, and many im- 
portant subjects have been brought before us ; but, thanks 
be to God, we have been graciously preserved from the 
evil one, and are drawing toward a conclusion in the ut- 
most harmony and love. 

"That the eternal God may be your refuge, and the 
everlasting arms be underneath you ; and that the good 
will of Him who dwelt in the bush may be ever manifest- 
ed among you, is the earnest prayer of, very dear breth- 
ren, yours, in endless love. 

"Signed, in behalf of the conference, 

" John Barber, President. 

" Liverpool, August 11, 1807." 

Vol. II.— 10. 

218 A HISTORY OF THE [1808, 

The answer of the General Conference to this is 
as follows : — 

" Baltimore, 25lh May, 1808. 

" Very Dear Brethren and Fathers in Christ': — ■ 
Your very affectionate address ' to the Methodist General 
Conference in America,' has been read in our conference, 
and afforded us great consolation. Feeling with you that 
' our doctrine and manner of spreading the gospel are the 
same,' that we are united under one glorious Head, suffer- 
ing in the same cause, and traveling to the same world of 
rest, we cannot but rejoice in your prosperity. Yes, breth- 
ren, we rejoice to hear that the great Head of the church 
has owned your labors, and given hundreds and thou- 
sands of precious souls to your labors and prayers. But 
above all, we feel constrained to return thanks to the Fa- 
ther of lights for presiding over your conference, and ena- 
bling you to draw to a close in harmony and love ; and 
again to go out into the hedges and highways, the towns 
and cities, and lift up your united voice for the recovery 
of a lost and sinking world. brethren, if God so won- 
derfully owned and blest the labors of the few that first 
engaged in spreading the gospel on the itinerant plan in 
your highly-favored land, so that ' a little one has become 
a thousand,' what may we not expect from the labors of 
hundreds and thousands, provided they continue equally 
pure in doctrine, holy in life, and zealous for the glory of 
the Redeemer's kingdom ? 

" We also, in this highly-favored country, have cause of 
unceasing gratitude and love to our common Lord, for his 
boundless love toward us. Although we have had a vast 
extent of country to travel over, in many parts stupendous 
chains of rocky mountains to climb, and uncultivated re- 
gions to explore, yet hitherto we have been kept one; and 
our labors have been crowned with success beyond our 
most sanguine expectations. Not only in our towns and 


populous cities, and the country adjacent to the Atlantic, 
have we seen the pleasure of the Lord prosper in our 
hand ; but also to the westward beyond the river Ohio, to 
the Mississippi and the Missouri, we have seen the travail 
of the Redeemer's soul coming home to God. In those 
places where but a few years ago the wild beast of the 
forest prowled after his prey, and the tawny savage lurked' 
in wait to murder the innocent, now houses are raised for the 
worship of God, precious souls have been converted by 
hundreds and thousands, and the songs of Zion are heard. 
Truly the wilderness and the solitary place have become 
glad, and the desert blossoms as the rose. This is the 
Lqrd's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 

" Our numbers are still increasing ; we added more than 
even thousand members to our societies the last year. 
There are now upward of one hundred and fifty thousand 
members within the bounds of our charge. The prospects 
are still opening and pleasing. The fields are white unto 
the harvest. Our missionaries in the interior and upon 
the frontier have been successful. But we wish to rejoice 
with trembling. All the honor and praise be ascribed to 
God for ever. 

" Your request for the continuance of our beloved brother 
Dr. Coke among you has been taken into the most serious 
and solemn deliberation in our conference ; and in com- 
pliance with your request, a vote has passed that he may 
continue with you until he may be called to us by all the 
annual conferences respectively, or the General Confer- 
ence. We are, however, not insensible of his value, or un- 
grateful for his past labors of love. And we do sincerely pray 
that the everlasting God may still be with him, and make 
him a blessing to hundreds and thousands of immortal souls. 

" Our venerable father, Mr. Asbury, is still spared to us ; 
and notwithstanding he carries the weight of threescore 
and three years, he has been enabled regularly to visit all 


220 A HISTORY OF THE [] 808. 

the annual conferences, and to preside in our General Con- 
ference. We esteem this a peculiar blessing. 

" As the pious Whatcoat is taken from us to his eternal 
reward, we have elected and set apart our beloved brother 
William McKendree, who has been well tried and found 
faithful in the work of the ministry nearly twenty years, 
to fill his place as joint superintendent with Mr. Asbury. 
And we hope that the mantle of Elijah will rest upon 
Elisha. Our conference has been large, and business of 
the greatest importance has come before us ; but through 
the infinite goodness of God we have been preserved in 
union, and are now drawing toward a close in harmony 
and love. 

" Respecting our union, brethren, we can say with you, 
we know no separation save the Atlantic. And we wish, 
so far as circumstances will permit, ever to cultivate the 
most cordial affection. 

" And now, dear brethren and fathers, praying that the 
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ may be your 
guide and support in life and death, and that we may all 
meet in our Father's house above, we remain yours, in un 
ceasing love. 

" Signed by order and in behalf of the conference^* 

As a variety of conflicting commentaries have 
been made on these proceedings, and especially upon 
the letters of Dr. Coke, some of them discreditable 
to his character, and others to the character of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, it seems proper to sub- 
join a few remarks, with a view to set the matter in a 
just point of light, referring the reader, for a more full 
vindication of those transactions, to the book entitled, 

* The proper signatures are wanting in the copies whence 
the above letters are taken. 


" An Original Church of Christ," and to the "Defence 
of our Fathers." Let it be remembered then, 

1. That the letter of Dr. Coke to Bishop White 
was his own simply, for which no one is responsible 
but himself, for he consulted not the General Confer- 
ence at all, nor even Bishop Asbury or Mr. Wesley. 
Nay, it appears from the letter itself that Dr. Coke 
was fully sensible that Bishop Asbury would be averse 
to the plan of a union between the two Churches. 
If, therefore, there be any thing reprehensible in the 
letter or in the plan proposed, neither the Methodist 
Egiscopal Church, Bishop Asbury, nor Mr. Wesley 
is to be held responsible for it, as neither the one nor 
the other was at all consenting to the proposition. But, 

2. It seems that Dr. Coke himself designed his 
letter only as preparatory to an interview on the sub- 
ject with Bishop White, should the proposition be 
favorably viewed by the latter. It was, therefore, 
purely a confidential communication from one friend 
to another, the writer requesting Bishop White to 
burn the letter in case he should not view the subject 
favorably ; and even if he should, the preliminaries 
were to be discussed afterward, and the whole sub- 
ject submitted to the General Conference, whose 
negative would have nullified the entire proceedings. 
The letter, therefore, should be considered only as an 
incipient step towards a union which the writer 
greatly desired as a means, according to his judgment 
at the time, of realizing a greater amount of good 
than could be in their separate action. If, therefore, 
the end proposed could have been realized without 
any sacrifice of principle, or the use of unlawful 
means, it might have been sanctioned by all good men 


222 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

in each communion, without any impeachment of 
either motive or judgment. In the estimation o f 
Bishop White himself, as appears from his answer to 
Dr. Coke, such a union might have been effected with- 
out any dereliction of duty on either side, provided 
the terms of the compact could have been made mu- 
tually agreeable. Futurity alone can fully declare 
whether the motive in making or rejecting the propo- 
sition were most in accordance with the Divine will, 
or most conducive to extensive and permanent good. 
In any, and in every event, the severe censures which 
have been cast upon Dr. Coke, and the unwarrantable 
conclusions respecting the organization of the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church, are not justified or sustained 
by the facts in the case, however much we may de- 
precate the making or rejecting the movements of 
either party in the premises. 

3. The most weighty objection, however, to Dr. 
Coke, in making the proposal, is, that he thereby ex- 
pressed a doubt of the validity of his own ordination, 
and of course of those on whom he had laid his hands. 
The reader is requested to notice that this objec- 
tion has been raised by the Protestant Episcopalians, 
who consider presbyterial ordination invalid, and who 
profess a belief in the uninterrupted succession of a 
third order in the church, denominated bishops, made 
such by a triple consecration ; but as this belief is 
founded upon no substantial proof, as such an order 
cannot be traced, nor therefore insisted upon as essen- 
tial to constitute a valid ministry, the objection itself 
can have no solid foundation ; more especially as Dr. 
Coke himself says expressly, in the above letter to 
the General Conference, that he had no confidence in 


the doctrine of succession, and therefore considered 
his" consecration by Wesley and others as perfectly 

But Dr. Coke's letter above quoted, sets this mat- 
ter at rest by the most explicit avowal on this point. 
In whatever sense Bishop White might have under- 
stood him, it is manifest that Dr. Coke never meant to 
insinuate that his own ordination by Mr. Wesley, or 
that of those who had received it at his hands, was 
wanting in any thing to make it valid. This is a con- 
struction put upon the letter of Dr. Coke not author- 
ized by the letter itself, and is expressly contradicted 
in the one he addressed to the General Conference. 

4. But as before said, whatever error may have 
been committed in this affair, the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church is not accountable for it. It is believed 
that Dr. Coke betrayed too much precipitancy in refer- 
ence to this subject — that his great desire for exten- 
sive usefulness led him to make the proposal, which he 
did without due consideration — that before he thus 
committed himself to those who were watching him, 
with perhaps some jealousy, he should have consulted 
and obtained the consent of his worthy colleague, as 
well as Mr. Wesley's and the General Conference. It 
is, moreover, highly probable that Dr. Coke misunder- 
stood the views of Mr. Wesley, when he told Bishop 
White that had he foreseen some things, he would not 
have gone so far. No other intimation, so far as I 
have been able to learn, was ever given that Mr. Wes- 
ley ever repented of what he had done for his Ameri- 
can brethren. His last letter to Ezekiel Cooper, but 
a few days before his death, and the record he made 
in his journal in reference to this business, both prove 


224 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

that Dr. Coke labored under a mistake when he said 
this. What Mr. Wesley said in regard to Mr. As 
bury's calling himself a bishop, and to Cokesbury Col- 
lege, no more proves that he repented of what he had 
done, than it does that a father is sorry that he has a 
promising son, merely because he finds it necessary 
to chastise him for his good. 

It should be observed that Dr. Coke does not say 
in his letter to Bishop White that he had authority 
from Mr. Wesley to say that the latter regretted the 
steps he had taken in the organization of the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church, but gives it as his opinion only 
that such were Mr. Wesley's views and feelings. 

The fact is, Dr. Coke had become alarmed — un 
necessarily so, as subsequent events proved — from the 
disposition manifested by O'Kelly and his partizans, 
fearing that a convulsion would take place in the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church, and that they would be- 
come scattered abroad. To prevent such a calamity, 
Bishop Asbury proposed the council, which had but 
an ephemeral existence, and did not answer the de- 
sign of its institution, to which neither Dr. Coke nor 
O'Kelly was agreed, the former submitting to it from 
deference to Bishop Asbury, proposing in the mean 
time a General Conference as a substitute, which was 
brought about in 1 792, at which time O'Kelly withdrew. 

Under these alarming apprehensions for the safety 
of the church, Dr. Coke made the proposition for a 
union with the Protestant Episcopal Church, from a 
hope of enlarging the sphere of usefulness for his 
Methodist brethren, by creating a concentration of ac- 
tion for the ministry of both communions, and thereby 
inspiring more public confidence in the cementing 


principles of Christianity and the stability of its insti- 
tutions. As, however, his fears were groundless, so 
the union proposed was both impolitic and unneces- 
sary, as he himself lived to see and acknowledge. 

It is hoped, therefore, that we may hear no. more 
of the doubts of Dr. Coke respecting the validity of 
his ordination. And whatever errors he may have 
committed in this affair, let them find an apology in 
that common frailty of human nature from which none 
is exempt — the imperfection of human judgment — ■ 
and be buried in the same tomb in which the remains 
are deposited which once shrouded a spirit of no com- 
mon mould — a spirit actuated by the noblest princi- 
ples of philanthropy, piety, and faith. 

We claim not for Dr. Coke perfection or infallibi- 
lity of judgment ; but we do claim for him an unsullied 
reputation, a purity of motive, guiding and actuating 
an extended desire for usefulness to his fellow-men, 
and which a close and critical inspection of his char- 
acter and conduct makes to shine out with increased 
lustre and a more enduring brightness. And if the 
same amount of goodness can be awarded to those 
who have made this vindication necessary — if the same 
apology for merely human weaknesses will serve to set 
off their virtues in the same conspicuous light — we 
shall rejoice in anticipating, by the abounding mercy 
of God in Christ Jesus, our eternal union with them 
all, in ascribing honor and glory to Him who hath 
washed them and us in his own blood, and hath made 
us kings and priests unto God for ever and ever. 

There was another very important matter submit- 
ted to this General Conference. We have already 
seen in the preceding chapter, the efforts which were 
2 10* 

226 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

made by Bishop Asbury and most of the annual con- 
ferences, to convene a delegated General Conference 
in 1807, but that the measure was defeated by the 
vote of the Virginia conference. Not despairing of 
accomplishing an object so desirable in itself, the sub- 
ject was presented to this General Conference in the 
following memorial : — 

" Very Dear Brethren : — We are as one of the 
seven eyes of the great and increasing body of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church in these United States, which is 
composed of about five hundred traveling, and about two 
thousand local preachers, together with upwards of one 
hundred and forty thousand members ; these, (with our nu- 
merous congregations and families, spread over an extent 
of country more than two thousand miles from one end to 
the other, amounting, in all probability, to more than one 
million of souls, which are, directly or remotely, under our 
pastoral oversight and ministerial charge,) should engage 
our most sacred attention, and should call into exertion all 
the wisdom and talents we are possessed of, to perpetuate 
the unity and prosperity of the whole connection, and to es- 
tablish such regulations, rules, and form of government, as 
may, by the blessing of God in Jesus Christ, promote that 
cause of religion which is more precious to us than riches, 
honor, or life itself, and be conducive to the salvation of 
souls, among the generations yet unborn. The fields are 
white unto harvest before us, and the opening prospect of 
the great day of glory brightens continually in our view, 
and we are looking forward with hopeful expectations for 
the universal spread of scriptural truth and holiness over 
the habitable globe. Brethren, for what have we labored — 
for what have we suffered — for what have we borne the 
reproach of Christ, with much long-suffering, with tears 
and sorrow — but to serve the great end and eternal purpose 



of the grace of God, in the present and everlasting felicity 
of immortal souls ? 

" When we take a serious and impartial view of this im- 
portant subject, and consider the extent of our connection, 
the number of our preachers, the great inconvenience, 
expense, and loss of time, that must necessarily result from 
our present regulations relative to our General Conferen- 
ces, we are deeply impressed with a thorough conviction 
that a representative or delegated General Conference, 
composed of a specific number, on principles of equal re- 
presentation, from the several annual conferences, would 
be much more conducive to the prosperity and general 
unity of the whole body, than the present indefinite and 
numerous body of ministers, collected together unequally 
from the various conferences to the great inconvenience 
of the ministry, and injury of the work of God. 

" We therefore present unto you this memorial, request- 
ing that you will adopt the principle of an equal repre- 
sentation from the annual conferences, to form in future a 
delegated General Conference, and that you will establish 
such rules and regulations as are necessary to carry the 
same into effect. 

" As we are persuaded that our brethren in general, 
from a view of the situation and circumstances of the con- 
nection, must be convinced, upon mature and impartial re- 
flection, of the propriety and necessity of the measure, we 
forbear to enumerate the various reasons and arguments 
which might be urged in support of it. But we do hereby 
instruct, advise, and request every member who shall go 
from our conference to the General Conference, to urge, 
if necessary, every reason and argument in favor of the 
principle, and to use all their christian influence to have 
the same adopted and carried into effect. 

" And we also shall and do invite and request our breth- 
ren in the several annual conferences which are to sit be- 


226 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

tween this and the General Conference, to join and unite 
with us in the subject matter of this memorial. We do 
hereby candidly and openly express our opinion and wish, 
with the firmest attachment to the unity and prosperity of 
the connection ; hoping and praying that our chief Shep- 
herd and Bishop of our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ, may 
direct you in all wisdom, righteousness, brotherly love, and 
Christian unity. 

" We are, dear brethren, in the bonds of gospel ties, 
most affectionately yours, &c. 

" By order and in behalf of the New -York conference, 
without a dissenting vote. 

" (Signed) Francis Ward, Sec'y. 
" Coeyman's Patent, May the 7th, 1807." 

This memorial, it seems, had been submitted to 
several of the annual conferences, and concurred in, 
as appears by the record, by the New England, Ohio, 
and South Carolina conferences ; and, accordingly, it 
had been requested, that as full a representation as 
practicable, should attend the present session of the 
General Conference, that a full expression of the voice 
of the several annual conferences should be heard in 
regard to this measure. 

After the memorial was read, it was referred to a 
committee of two members from each annual confer- 
ence, chosen by the representatives of each confer 
ence from among themselves ; and the following mem 
bers composed the committee : — 

New-York Conference — Ezekiel Cooper, John 
Wilson ; New-England do., George Pickering, Joshua 
Soule ; Western do., William M'Kendree, William 
Burke ; South Carolina do., William Phoebus, Josias 
Randle ; Virginia do., Philip Bruce, Jesse Lee ; Bal- 



timore do., Stephen G. Roszell, Nelson Reed ; Phila- 
delphia do., John M'Claskey, Thomas Ware. 

On Monday, the 16lh, the committee presented 
the following report, which, after a long debate, was 
rejected by a vote of 57 for and 64 against it : — 

" Whereas, it is of the greatest importance that the doc- 
trine, form of government, and general rules of the United 
Societies in America be preserved sacred and inviolable : 
and whereas every prudent measure should be taken to 
preserve, strengthen, and perpetuate the union of the con- 
nection : — 

, " Therefore, your committee, upon mature deliberation, 
have thought it advisable that the third section of the form 
of Discipline shall be as follows, viz : — 


" Of the General Conference. 

" 1. The General Conference shall be composed of de- 
legates from the annual conferences. 

" 2. The delegates shall be chosen by ballot without de- 
bate, in the annual conferences respectively, in the last 
meeting of conference previous to the sitting of the Gene- 
ral Conference. 

" 3. Each annual conference respectively shall have a 
right to send seven elders, members of their conference, 
as delegates to the General Conference. 

" 4. Each annual conference shall have a right to send 
one delegate in addition to the seven, for every ten mem- 
bers belonging to such conference, over and above fifty, 
so that if there be sixty members they shall send eight ; 
if seventy, they shall send nine, and so on in proportion. 

" 5. The General Conference shall meet on the first day 
of May, in the year of our Lord 1812 ; and thenceforward 
on the first day of May, once in four years perpetually, at 


230 • A HISTORV OF THE [1808. 

such place or places as shall be fixed on by the General 
Conference from time to time. 

" 6. At all times when the General Conference is met, 
it shall take two thirds of the whole number of delegates 
to form a quorum. 

" 7. One of the general superintendents shall preside in 
the General Conference ; but in case no general superin- 
tendent be present, the General Conference shall choose 
a president pro tem. 

" 8. The General Conference shall have full powers to 
make rules, regulations, and canons for our church, under 
the following limitations and restrictions, viz : 

" The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or 
change our articles of religion ; nor establish any new 
standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present ex- 
isting and established standards of doctrine. 

" They shall not lessen the number of seven delegates 
from each annual conference, nor allow of a greater num- 
ber from any annual conference than is provided for in the 
fourth paragraph of this section. 

" They shall not change or alter any part or rule of our 
government, so as to do away episcopacy, or to destroy the 
plan of our itinerant general superintendency. 

" They shall not revoke or change the general rules of 
the United Societies. 

" They shall not do away the privileges of our ministers 
or preachers of trial by a committee, and of an appeal. 

" Neither shall they appropriate the produce of the Book 
Concern, or of the Charter Fund, to any purpose other than for 
the benefit of the traveling, superannuated, supernumerary 
and worn out preachers, their wives, widows, and children. 

" Provided, nevertheless, that upon the joint recommend- 
ation of all the annual conferences, then a majority of two 
thirds of the General Conference succeeding, shall suffice 
to alter any of the above restrictions." 


After discussing this report for one whole day, it 
was, by a vote of the conference, postponed until the 
reconsideration of the question respecting the manner 
in which the presiding elders should thereafter be ap- 
pointed. After it was decided that they should con- 
tinue to be appointed as heretofore by the bishops, on 
Wednesday the 18th, the consideration of the re- 
port was resumed, and after some debate the entire 
report was, as before stated, rejected by a majority of 
seven votes. 

The rejection of this report was a source of much 
regret and disappointment to most of the older preach- 
ers who were present, and particularly to Bishop As- 
bury, as they clearly saw the necessity of adopting 
some plan by which the doctrines of the church, its 
form of government, and its general rules, might be 
preserved from deterioration, and also by which a 
more equal representation from the several annual 
conferences should be secured. These things led to 
further consultation upon the subject, and it issued 
finally in the adoption, almost unanimously, of the fol- 
lowing regulations and limitations : — 

" Q. Who shall compose the General Conference, and 
what are the regulations and powers belonging to it ? 

"A. 1. The General Conference shall be composed of 
one member for every five members of each annual con- 
ference, to be appointed by seniority or choice, at the dis- 
cretion of such annual conference ; yet so that such repre- 
sentatives shall have traveled four full calendar years from 
the time they were received on trial by an annual confer- 
ence, and are in full connection at the time of holding the 


232 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

" 2. The General Conference shall meet on the first day 
of May, in the year of our Lord 1812, in the city of New- 
York, and thenceforward on the first day of May once in 
four years perpetually, in such place or places as shall be 
fixed by the General Conference from time to time ; but 
the general superintendents, with or by the advice of all 
the annual conferences, or, if there be no general superin- 
tendents, all the annual conferences respectively, shall 
have power to call a General Conference, if they judge it 
necessary, at any time. 

"' 3. At all times when the General Conference is met, 
it shall take two thirds of the representatives of all the 
annual conferences to make a quorum for the transacting 
of business. 

" 4. One of the general superintendents shall preside in 
the General Conference ; but in case no general superin- 
tendent be present, the General Conference shall choose 
a president pro tempore. 

" 5. The General Conference shall have full powers to 
make rules and regulations for our Church, under the fol- 
lowing limitations and restrictions, viz. : 

" 1. The General Conference shall not revoke, alter, or 
change our Articles of Religion, nor establish any new 
standards or rules of doctrine, contrary to our present 
existing and established standards of doctrine. 

" 2. They shall not allow of more than one representa- 
tive for every five members of the annual conference, nor 
allow of a less number than one for every seven. 

" 3. They shall not change or alter any part or rule of 
our government, so as to do away episcopacy, or to destroy 
the plan of our itinerant general superintendency. 

" 4. They shall not revoke or change the general rules 
of the United Societies. 

" 5. They shall not do away the privileges of our minis- 
ters or preachers of a trial by a committee, and of an ap- 


peal ; neither shall they do away the privileges of our 
members of trial before the society or by a select number, 
and of an appeal. 

" 6. They shall not appropriate the produce of the Book 
Concern or of the Charter Fund to any purpose other than 
for the benefit of the traveling, supernumerary., superannu- 
ated, and worn out preachers, their wives, widows, and 

" 7. Provided, nevertheless, that, upon the joint recom- 
mendation.of all the annual conferences, then a majority 
of two-thirds of the General Conference succeeding, shall 
suffice to alter any of the above resolutions." 

* The unanimity with which these restrictive regula- 
tions were adopted by the conference, shows the deep 
sense which was very generally felt of the propriety 
of limiting the powers of the General Conference, so 
as to secure for ever the essential doctrines of Chris- 
tianity from all encroachments, as well as those rules 
of moral conduct, so succinctly and precisely embo- 
died in the General Rules, and also to prevent the ap- 
propriations of the available funds of the church from 
being diverted to other objects than those for which 
they had been established. Call these rules, there- 
fore, restrictive regulations, or a constitution of the 
Church — for we contend not about names merely — 
they have ever since been considered as sacredly bind- 
ing upon all succeeding General Conferences, limit- 
ing them in all their legislative acts, and prohibiting 
them from making inroads upon the docrines, gene- 
ral rules, and government of the church. 

Before this, each General Conference felt itseif at 
full liberty, not being prohibited by any standing laws, 
to make whatever alterations it might see fit, or to in- 


234 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

troduce any new doctrine or item in the Discipline, 
which either fancy, inclination, discretion, or indiscre- 
tion might dictate. Under this state of things, know- 
ing the rage of man for novelty, and witnessing the 
destructive changes which have frequently laid waste 
churches, by removing ancient land-marks, and so 
modifying doctrines and usages as to suit the temper 
of the times, or to gratify either a corrupt taste or a 
perverse disposilion, many had felt uneasy apprehen- 
sions for the safety and unity of the church, and the 
stability of its doctrines, moral discipline, and the 
frame of its government ; and none were more soli- 
citous upon this subject than Bishop Asbury, who had 
labored so long with an assiduity equalled by few, 
if indeed any, and suffered so much for the propa- 
gation and establishing of these important points ; he 
therefore greatly desired, before he should be called 
hence, to see them fixed upon a permanent founda- 
tion. The lively satisfaction, loo, with which this act 
of the conference was received generally, both by min- 
isters and people, abundantly proves the wisdom which 
presided in that council which devised these resolu- 
tions, and applauds the prudence and caution with 
which they were so cordially adopted. And although 
the progress of events has dictated the expediency of 
some modification in the iron-like bond of the proviso, 
yet time and experience have borne a faithful testimo- 
ny to the salutary influence of the restrictions them- 
selves, on the peace and unity of the church. 

The death of Bishop Whatcoat, and the absence 
of Dr. Coke, left Bishop Asbury alone in the super- 
intendency. This' was a burden, in the present en- 
larged state of the work, he was not able longer to 


bear ; and hence a resolution passed the conference 
on the twelfth day of its session, for the election and 
consecration of an additional bishop. Before, how- 
ever, this motion prevailed, a motion for the election 
of seven additional bishops, one for each annual con- 
ference, with Bishop Asbury at their head, was large- 
ly and ably discussed by some of the leading mem- 
bers of the conference on each side. Those, how- 
ever, who were in favor of this motion, were also in 
favor of either abolishing or greatly restricting the of- 
fice of presiding elder, and making the episcopacy so 
large as in a great measure to supersede the neces- 
sity of that office. But as it was finally settled by a 
large majority of the conference, that this officer should 
be continued in the church, and likewise continue to be 
appointed by the bishop, so the motion for adding 
seven additional bishops, notwithstanding the plausi- 
bility with which the measure was urged upon the 
conference, was finally rejected by a strong vote. 

It was then moved that two additional bishops be 
elected and consecrated. This also, after a free inter- 
change of views, was decided in the negative, when 
the resolution in favor of one was adopted almost una 
nimously. The next question to be decided, was, who 
should be the man. 

On the same day on which the resolution passed, 
the conference proceeded to the election by ballot, 
and on counting the votes, it was found that out of 
1 28, the number of members present, William M 1 Ken- 
dree had 95 in his favor,* and was therefore declared 

* I do not find on the journal of the conference any record 
of the names of those for wham the others voted, but I believe 
they were divided between Ezekiel Cooper and Jesse Lee, the 
former having 28 votes in his favor. 


236 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

to be duly elected ; and on the 17th of May, 1S08, 
he was consecrated in the Light-street church by 
Bishop Asbury, assisted by the Rev. Messrs. Freeborn 
Garrettson, Philip Bruce, Jesse Lee, and Thomas 

Mr. M'Kendree had been commended to the atten- 
tion and approbation of the conference, by a long, la- 
borious, and faithful service in the itinerant field of 
labor, during which time God had set his seal to his 
ministry in a most, remarkable manner. 

William M'Kendree was born of reputable parents, 
in King William county, in the State of Virginia, on 
the 6th day of July, 1757, and was educated in the 
Church of England. In the year 1787, in the 30th 
year of his age, under the ministry of the Rev. John 
Easter, Mr. M'Kendree was awakened to a sense of 
his lost condition, and thence led to seek and obtain 
an interest in the atoning blood of Christ. Impelled 
by an inextinguishable thirst for the salvation of souls, 
he was led into the " ministry of reconciliation," and 
in 1788 was received on trial in the Virginia con 
ference. He soon gave evidence of great ardor of 
mind in the cause of God, and of superior abilities as 
a preacher of the gospel. 

In the great agitation which was produced by the 
conduct of O'Kelly and his partisans, his mind be- 
came for a short season greatly perplexed with the 
controversy which arose out of the questions which 
were then mooted, and, fearing that the course taken 
by the conference might prove injurious to the cause 
of religion, he declined taking a regular appointment 
for that year. He was, however, soon convinced of 
his error, and, at the request of the bishop, was sta- 


tioned in Norfolk, Va., in 1793. These things led 
him to a more critical inquiry into those points of con- 
troversy then agitated, and the result was a more tho- 
rough conviction than ever of the scriptural character 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and of his duty to 
adhere to it with firmness and fidelity, which he did to 
the end of his life. 

In 1796 he was appointed to the charge of a dis- 
trict in the Virginia conference, which trust he ful- 
filled with great fidelity and success for three years, 
when he was removed to the Baltimore district, over 
which he presided one year with great dignity and 
usefulness, laboring with assiduity to spread " the 
knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins." 

At the end of this term he was selected by Bish- 
ops Asbury and Whatcoat, who were going on their 
tour to the western country, to take charge of the dis- 
trict which then comprehended the whole of the west- 
ern conference. Here he had to travel about fifteen 
hundred miles every three months, in order to pass 
around and through his district. He entered upon 
this new field of labor with that enlightened zeal which 
had heretofore distinguished him, and was the happy 
and honored instrument of extending the Redeemer's 
kingdom far into these new settlements, in some parts 
of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. While here, the 
camp-meetings commenced, before described, which 
were instrumental in promoting the extensive revivals 
of religion with which those parts of the country were 
so highly favored. Into this work he entered with 
all his soul, traveling and preaching through the set- 
tlements, and was everywhere hailed as a messenger 
of God.. Here he was instrumental, in connection 


238 A HISTORY OF THE [1808 

with those associated with him in this good work, in 
laying the foundation of that living temple which has 
been erected in that country. 

It was from this field of labor that Mr. M'Kendree 
came to the General Conference in 1808. And such 
was the confidence inspired in his wisdom and integ- 
rity, in his zeal and prudence in promoting the cause 
of God, and such a halo of glory seemed to surround 
his character, that the finger of Providence appeared 
to point to him as the most suitable person to fill the 
office of a superintendent. 

Though personally unknown to most of the younger 
members of the conference, yet a sermon which he de- 
livered in the Light-street church on the Sabbath 
morning previously to the day of his election, had 
such an effect on the minds of all present, that they 
seemed to say, with one accord, " This is the man of 
our choice, whom God hath appointed to rule ovei 
us." He was accordingly elected and consecrated as 
before related ; and his subsequent life and conduct 
prove that the choice fell upon the right man, though 
his administration was often subjected to the severest 
test and most critical scrutiny. 

At this conference, Ezekiel Cooper resigned his 
station as editor and general book steward, and John 
Wilson and Daniel Hitt, the former having served 
four years as the assistant of Mr. Cooper, were elected 
to fill the station. A rule also passed the conference 
prohibiting any one to serve in this office more than 
eight years successively. 

The following regulation was adopted in respect to 
the election and consecration of local preachers to the 
office of deacons : — 


" The bishops have obtained liberty, by the suffrages of 
the conference, to ordain local preachers to the office of 
deacons, provided their characters pass in examination, 
and obtain the approbation of the yearly conference, with 
a testimonial from the quarterly meeting of their respective 
circuits, after proper examination, signed by the president 
and countersigned by the secretary." 

The following rules respecting raising supplies 
were adopted : — 

" Every annual conference has full liberty to adopt and 
recommend such plans and rules as to them may appear 
necessary, the more effectually to raise supplies for the re- 
spective allowances. 

" If the respective allowances are not raised, as pro- 
vided for, the connection shall not be accountable for the 
deficiency, as in case of debt." 

The section respecting the trial and expulsion of 
members for a delinquency in the payment of debts, 
and other disputes, was so amended as to allow a 
legal process when it is judged the case is such as 
to require it. 

In the question respecting permitting " strangers" 
at the meeting of the class and society, the word 
"strangers" was exchanged for the words, " those who 
are not of our society," so as to read, " How often shall 
we permit those who are not of our society to meet in 
class or society ?" 

After these transactions, together with a few verbal 
alterations in some sections of the Discipline, which 
do not much affect the sense, on the 26th day of the 
month the conference adjourned, never more to meet 
under the same circumstances, as hereafter the con 


240 A HISTORY OF THE [1808 

fevence was to be composed of delegates chosen by 
the respective annual conferences. 

In conformity to the resolution of the conference 
in relation to Dr. Coke, the following was inserted in 
the minutes : — ■ 

" Dr. Coke, at the request of the British Conference, 
and by consent of our General Conference, resides in 
Europe. He is not to exercise the office of superintend- 
ent among us in the United States, until he be recalled by 
the General Conference, or by all the annual conferences 

From this period, therefore, Dr. Coke resided in 
Europe, until he commenced the missionary voyage to 
Asia, in which he fell a martyr to his work, in the 
midst of the Indian ocean, where he was entombed 
beneath its coral sands, until the last trumpet shall bid 
his " sleeping dust" awake to everlasting life and glory. 


From the close of the General Conference of 1808, to the commence- 
ment of the General Conference of 1812. 

1808. There were no additional conferences cre- 
ated this year, the whole of the work in the United 
States and Territories, as well as in Upper and Lower 
Canada, being comprehended in the seven already ex- 

It appears that both preachers and people were 
generally satisfied with what had been done by the 
last General Conference, and the experience of thirty 


years has abundantly tested the wisdom of the plan 
of securing an equal representation from the several 
annual conferences, acting, when together, under the 
limitations which that conference saw fit to impose. 
The preachers, therefore, went to their several sta- 
tions with hearts burning with love to their fellow- 
men, and a determination to devote themselves en- 
tirely to their peculiar work. And though but few 
new circuits were added this year, yet the work of 
God gradually increased and spread among the people, 
both in the old and new countries. 

Bishop Asbury felt himself greatly relieved from 
the burden of responsibility resting upon him as the 
sole superintendent, by the active and diligent manner 
in which the newly elected and consecrated bishop 
entered upon the labors of his office : — -"The burden," 
he remarks, " is now borne by two pair of shoulders 
instead of one — the care is cast upon two hearts and 
heads." He, however, by no means remitted any of 
his labors, but with the same characteristic ardor and 
diligence, we find him moving through the general work, 
giving tone to the spirit of reformation which was 
now pervading different portions of the country, par 
ticularly through the agency of camp-meetings. 
Hence we find him this year, in company with Bish- 
op M 'Kendree, after passing through some of the older 
settlements of Pennsylvania, crossing the mountains 
and descending into the valley of the Mississippi ; 
and notwithstanding the growing infirmities of body 
under which he often groaned, he visited several of 
their camp-meetings, and preached to the people, ex- 
horting them to steadfastness in the faith. 

While here he had an opportunity of manifesting 

Vol. II.— 1 1 

242 A HISTORY OF THE [1808 

the tender sensibilities of his soul over the grave of 
one of his departed friends. Passing by the grave, 
"he says : — 

" It was as much as I could do to forbear weeping as I 
mused over her speaking grave. How sweetly eloquent! 
Ah ! the world knows little of my sorrows — little knows 
how dear to me are my many friends, and how deeply I 
feel their loss. But they all die in the Lord, and this shall 
comfort me." 

His colleague, Bishop M'Kendree, also entered 
upon his work with equal diligence, making the entire 
circuit of the continent from year to year. One rea- 
son assigned by Bishop Asbury why it became him 
to visit, as nearly as practicable, every part of the 
work was, that the preachers and people ought to 
know their bishop, and that he ought to know them, 
so as to be able to sympathize with them in their 
wants and sufferings, to understand their true state, as 
well as to set an example to all which they might 
safely and profitably imitate. Hence, while in the 
western country, he says, " I feel for the people of 
this territory ; but we must suffer with them if we 
expect to feel for them as we ought ; and here are 
the disadvantages of a local episcopacy, because it 
cannot be interested for its charge as it should be, be- 
cause it sees not, suffers not with, and therefore feels 
not for the people." And therefore for the first year 
of Bishop M'Kendree's episcopal labors, his father in 
the gospel led him around from one part of the work 
to another, introduced him to the conferences, and 
made him acquainted, as far as possible, with the 
people of his charge. And what a charge ! To travel 


from Georgia to Maine, from thence through Vermont 
and along the lakes into the western states* following 
the waters of the Ohio, the Mississippi, the Tennessee 
and the Cumberland rivers, ascending the hills and 
crossing the intervening valleys, lodging sometimes in 
log huts, and not unfrequently in the woods, attend- 
ing the conferences, preaching almost every day, re- 
ceiving visiters, writing letters, and hearing the griev- 
ances of discontented individuals ! This was labor ! 
and labor, too, actually performed by those who were at 
that time honored with presiding over the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. And does the reader wish to 
hear how such travels and labors were performed ? Let 
Bishop Asbury answer. Speaking of his departure 
from a camp-meeting which he and Bishop M'Ken- 
dree had attended in Tennessee, he says : — 

" The right way to improve a short day is to stop only 
to feed the horses ; and let the riders, meanwhile, take a 
bite of what they may have been provident enough to put 
into their pockets." 

As they thus moved around from one annual con- 
ference to another, Bishop Asbury could direct the 
attention of his colleague to the fields which had 
been sown by those who had already cultivated the 

Take another extract trom his journal for this year, 
as an instance of the mode in which they traveled, 
and of the feelings which were inspired under these 
things, and the prospects before them. They were 
now in the state of Georgia, having crossed the moun- 
tains from Tennessee and arrived among the older 
settlements. While here he says : — 


244 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

" My flesh sinks under labor. We are riding in a poor 
thirty dollar chaise, in partnership, two bishops of us, but 
it must be confessed that it tallies well with the weight of 
our purses. What bishops ! Well — but we have great 
news, and we have great times, and each western, south- 
ern, and the Virginia conference will have one thousand 
souls truly converted to God. Is not this an equivalent for a 
light purse 1 And are we not well paid for starving and 
toil 1 Yes, glory to God !" 

This, indeed, was the reward for which he looked, 
for it may surprise some readers to know that the 
salary of these bishops amounted to the enormous 
sum of eighty dollars a year, besides their traveling 
expenses. Yet this is the fact, and from this pittance 
they had to supply themselves with clothes and tra- 
veling apparatus. Hence he refers in the above ex- 
tract, to the " weight of their purses." 
,"' While, however, they were, in some places, called 
upon to suffer these privations, yet, in other places, 
they knew "how to abound, having all things" needful 
for temporal comfort, surrounded by the kindest friends, 
and comforted by their unaffected greetings of friendship. 
Under these circumstances, they poured out their hearts 
in grateful acknowledgments to God for his goodness 
in raising them up friends to comfort them and adminis- 
ter to their wants, at the same time expressing a fear lest 
those abundant marks of favor should make them forget 
their dependence on God, or neglect him as the " Giver 
of every good and perfect gift." But whether in want or 
abounding in plenty, they went on their way, rejoicing 
in all the good things which the Lord was doing for 
the people, and contributing by their preaching and 
example to invite all their brethren to diligence and 


perseverance in their respective spheres of labor. 
This was an efficient general superintendency, worthy 
of the name, and answering the end of its institution. 

Among other places, the new settlements in some 
portions of the state of Ohio were this year visited 
with outpourings of the Divine Spirit. We have al- 
ready noticed the influence which the camp-meetings 
exerted on the inhabitants of that country, and that 
their continuance, freed from the wild irregularities 
which had rendered them suspicious in some places, 
was a means of diffusing the spirit of reformation and. 
of sound piety through the settlements. Along the 
banks of Paint Creek and the Great Miami, the work 
flourished greatly during this and several subsequent 
years, so that, as before stated, in the month of Sep- 
tember, 1807, an annual conference was held in Chi 
licothe, and another in 1809. 

This year was distinguished by a very considerable 
revival of religion in the Mad river country. Among 
others who were made partakers of divine grace, was 
a Mr. Kenton, who was one of the first adventurers 
into the wilderness of Kentucky and Ohio, and had 
been a companion of the celebrated Boone, the hardy 
pioneer into Kentucky. Kenton, after living for some 
time near Maysville in Kentucky, finally settled on 
the banks of Mad river. He had often displayed the 
most intrepid courage in contending with the savages 
of the wilderness, in conquering and slaying the wild 
beasts of the forest, and enduring all those hardships 
which are incident to the life of a rover through the 
western woods and prairies. And though once or 
twice taken a prisoner by the savages, yet such was 
his vigilance and fearlessness, that he escaped from 


246 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

their grasp, and survived all the perils of a hunter's life. 
Yet this haughty lord of the forest fell before the 
" sword of the spirit which is the word of God." He 
who had fled from the face of civilization, and more 
than once moved his residence to avoid coming in 
contact with his white neighbors who were settling 
around him, was at length caught in the Gospel net, 
and brought a willing captive to the Lord Jesus 

About this time, a camp-meeting was held in his 
immediate neighborhood. 1 Attracted by the fame of 
their character, and wishing to gratify a laudable curi 
osity, Kenton mingled with the crowd who attended 
the meeting, and listened with attention to the ambas- 
sadors of Christ. Light broke in upon his under- 
standing, and conviction penetrated his conscience. 
He who had boldly grappled with the wild beasts of 
the forest, and fearlessly contended with ferocious In- 
dians, was now seen to tremble and weep under the 
power of Gospel truth. After laboring some time in 
silence under the pressure of that guilt which he now 
felt preying upon his spirits, he asked and obtained an 
interview with the preacher, the Rev. Mr. Sale, to 
whom he unbosomed himself in the following strain : — 

" Sir, I wish to open my mind to you freely, but must 
enjoin the most profound secrecy. I have been a wretched 
sinner ; but the Lord has spared my life. I have been in 
so many battles, encountered so many dangers, so many 
times taken prisoner by the Indians — have run the gaunt- 
let — have been taken into the woods by the Indians, strip- 
ped, and tied fast on the back of a wild colt, stretched and 
lashed fast with my hands under its flanks, my heels under 
its breast, and then let loose to the mercy of the wild ani- 


mal, till some of my limbs were broken ; and I at last mi- 
raculously escaped. I have been wounded so often, and 
encountered various other difficulties ; but after all have 
been firm to my purpose and unshaken in my resolutions 
and determinations. And now, sir, by the help of God, I 
am determined to get religion and serve the Lord. Do you 
think, sir, I will ever give it up 1" 

After an interchange of some thoughts in reference 
to this momentous subject, and enjoining secrecy upon 
Mr. Sale, they returned to the encampment. That 
night the general — for such was his title — was in 
great agony of mind, and was earnestly engaged in 
seeking for redemption in the blood of Christ. The 
next morning he was heard proclaiming aloud him- 
self, what he had the night before so solemnly request- 
ed to be kept a profound secret. He was declaring 
what God had done for his soul, and many praised 
God on his account. 

Such a change, on such a man, could not but have 
a most powerful and salutary influence on the minds 
of others, especially as his subsequent life gave irre- 
futable evidence of the reality of the work. This 
is given as one specimen among hundreds which 
might be selected, in proof of the good effects of these 

In the south-western part of the country a new cir- 
cuit was formed along the banks of the Tombigbee 
river, by the labors of Matthew P. Sturdevant. This 
being a new and thinly settled country, the preacher 
was subjected to those difficulties and hardships which 
were inseparable from the mode of life adopted by the 
Methodist itinerants of those days. He succeeded, 
however, in forming a circuit, so that in 1 8 1 we find, 


248 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

on the minutes of conference for Tombigbee, eighty- 
six members — seventy-one whites, and fifteen colored. 

In New-England the work of God had slowly pro- 
gressed in several places, and this year Smithjield and 
Palmyra circuits were added to those heretofore form- 
ed. The latter was in the Kennebeck district, much 
of which embraced the newly settled countries in the 
province of Maine. Through the labors of such 
men as the Rev. Messrs. Elijah Hedding, Joshua 
Soule, Thomas Branch, John Broadhead, Elijah R. 
Sabin, and Oliver Beale, who were this year the pre- 
siding elders in the New-England conference, Me- 
thodism was gradually, and in some places power- 
fully, advancing, both in the older and in some of the 
new settlements in the New-England states. While 
Thomas Branch was leading forward the young men 
under his care in the regions of Vermont, where Me- 
thodism now numbered about one thousand six hun- 
dred members, Elijah Hedding (now bishop) was 
equally indefatigable in exploring the settlements and 
villages among the hills and valleys of New-Hamp- 
shire ; and the province of Maine was blessed with 
the labors of Joshua Soule (now bishop) and Oliver 
Beale, whose example in the work committed to their 
care, stimulated the preachers on their respective dis- 
tricts to activity and diligence in their respective 
spheres of labor. 

But among those whose early labors were devoted 
to the salvation of the people in New-England, we 
must not forget to mention the name of Rev. George 
Pickering. As early as 1795 we find him stationed 
in Hartford, Connecticut ; and, after filling the stations 
of New- London, Lynn, and Boston, he was appointed 


a presiding elder in 1797, which office he filled for 
several terms, with the needful intervening years in 
stations, until age and infirmities obliged him to inter- 
mit his more extensive labors for those better suited 
to his declining years. 

When Mr. Pickering entered this field, in 1793, 
there was but one district, which was then in charge 
of Jesse Lee, including eighteen circuits, twenty-six 
preachers, and two thousand two hundred and sixly 
members. At the time of which we are now speak- 
ing, there were six districts, fifty-four circuits, seven- 
ty-five preachers, and eight thousand eight hundred 
and twenty-five church members. Mr. Pickering, 
therefore, may be said, in some sense, to have grown 
up with the Methodist Episcopal Church in New- 
England, as he very soon followed Mr. Lee, and has 
ever since shared in its weal or wo, during all the vi- 
cissitudes through which it has passed in that part of 
our work ; and he still lives to labor and rejoice with 
his brethren. And though the above number may ap- 
pear small in comparison with most of the other con 
ferences, yet it must be remembered that Methodism 
in that country had to contend with an opposition 
of a peculiar character, arising from the modes of 
thinking and habits of the people on religious sub- 
jects, and also that other churches were, in many in- 
stances, as much benefited by the labors of the Me- 
thodist ministry as were the Methodists themselves. 
Here, as well as in some other places, many who 
were awakened and converted to God by our minis- 
try, were received into other communions, and a spirit 
of reformation, by this means, was diffused among the 
various evangelical denominations. These things are 

11* 2 

250 A HISTORY OF THE [1808 

mentioned not by way of complaint against others, 
but merely as matters of fact, for we rejoice in all 
that the Lord our God has done, or may do, by what- 
ever instrumentality he may see fit to work. 

While these things were going forward in the more 
exterior parts of the field of labor, God was not un- 
mindful of the people in the cities and villages in the 
older states. In the city of New-York, the work of 
reformation continued with encouraging prosperity, 
and many were made partakers of the " grace of life." 
In the city of Philadelphia also, there was an out- 
pouring of the Spirit upon the congregations, and quite 
a number was added to the church. Through the 
agency of camp-meetings many parts of the country 
were blessed, particularly on the eastern shore of Ma- 
ryland, where hundreds of sinners were happily con- 
verted to God ; and his people were made to rejoice 
abundantly in beholding these manifest displays of 
the mercy and love of God toward their fellow-men, 
as well as in their own enjoyment of the reviving in- 
fluences of the Holy Spirit. 

A remarkable work of God commenced this year 
in the penitentiary of Richmond, in Virginia, under the 
faithful labors of the Rev. Stith Mead, who undertook 
to carry the consolations of religion to those unhappy 
people. By preaching to them himself, and procuring 
the help of other ministers, and by circulating among 
them small religious books, their minds were led to 
consider their ways, a godly sorrow for sin was awa- 
kened in their hearts, and they were directed to look 
by faith to Jesus Christ for pardon and salvation. The 
result of this good work was, that in the course of a 
few months about thirty of these prisoners were formed 


into a society, furnishing satisfactory evidence that they 
had " passed from death unto life." 

Twenty-nine preachers were located this year, 
seven were returned supernumerary, seven superannu- 
ated, one had been expelled, and two, John Richards* 

* John Richards joined the Roman Catholics. When the 
writer of this history was stationed in Montreal in 1807 — hav- 
ing been changed by the presiding elder from Niagara to Mon- 
treal—Mr. Richards came there with a special recommendation 
from Bishop Asbury as a missionary. He was received with 
cordiality, and preached in our house with acceptance, and gave 
great satisfaction to the people. After being there about two 
weeks, at his request he was introduced to a Catholic priest in 
Montreal, and afterward visited him nearly every day, without 
any suspicion being entertained of an intention on his part to 
leave us. At length, from various conversations had with the 
writer and several other members of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, in which Mr. Richards pleaded the cause of the Roman 
Church, suspicions became rife that he was a Catholic, and 
great anxiety in the little society was felt on his account. 

Within a few days after this became public, our doubts were 
all dissipated by receiving from him a written Protest against the 
Methodist Societies, as a " continuation of an ancient heresy 
which had long afflicted the church," declaring that he with- 
drew all connection with them, but that he should carry with 
him " into the bosom of the holy church a sincere regard for 
their welfare, and prayers for their salvation." After passing 
through the preliminary steps, he became, in a very short time, 
A priest in the Roman Catholic communion, and remains such 
to the present time. The reasons for this step remain unex- 
plained, as Mr. R. declined giving any other than those con- 
tained in his written protest. It may, however, be proper to 
add, that Mr. R. was born and reared in the Romish Church, 
and received an education in Georgetown, D. C. Here, while 
a youth, he was professedly awakened and converted under 
the Methodist ministry, joined our church, and entered the tra- 
veling connection on trial in the Baltimore conference, in the 
year 1804. Whether it was from an early bias in favor of 
Roman Catholicism, from which he was never entirely deliv- 


252 A HISTORV OF THE [1808 

and Dyer Burge, had withdrawn. George Dougharty 
Bennet Kendrick, Henry Willis, and Richard Swain 
had died. 

The obituary notices of preachers now began to be 
considerably lengthened in the published minutes, and 
as all can have recourse to these for information respect- 
ing their character, labors, and deaths, I must, to make 
room for other matters more essentially connected 
with the history of the Church, continue to omit, 
or modify these, as the nature of the case may 
seem to require. 

Of George Dougharty we have already spoken in 
the account of the work in Charleston, S. C. It is 
stated that his character stood exceedingly high in his 
conference, both as a preacher and a presiding elder, 
furnishing the most indubitable evidence of his readi- 
ness and qualification to fill with dignity and useful- 
ness any department of the work to which he might 
be called. After filling the stations allotted him in the 
church with great fidelity, and discharging the duties 
of his office as long as he was able to move, he 
manifested his courage in the cause of God, by bring- 
ing forward a resolution in the last conference he at- 
tended, in 1 807, declaring " that if any preacher should 
desert his station through fear, in time of sickness or 
danger, the conference should never employ that man 

ered, or from a supposed conviction of the truth of its doctrine 
and usages, and a belief that he could, by entering that com- 
munion, become more extensively useful, are questions which 
are left to be solved in that day which shall disclose the secrets 
of all hearts. So far as is known to the writer, Mr. Richards 
has maintained a reputable standing in the church to which he 
attached himself. 


It is said that he sustained this resolution, how- 
ever rigid it may appear, with such force and energy 
of argument, that he carried his cause, and thus, like 
a general who dies in the arms of victory, he triumph- 
ed in this last public act of his life over all opposition. 

His last sufferings were indescribably severe ; but 
he bore them with that meek submission to the divine 
will by which he had ever been distinguished during 
his active life; and on the 23d day of March, 1807, 
he took his departure from a world of labor and suf- 
fering, to a land of rest and joy, after having devoted 
the last nine years of his life to the services of the 

His abilities as a preacher were of a high order, 
and they were guided in their exercise by that wis- 
dom and prudence, and attended by that " unction 
from the Holy One," which made them subservient to 
the advancement of the cause and interests of Jesus 
Christ. Whenever he spoke in the name of God, he 
most evidently spoke of what he knew and felt, and 
not merely from a speculative knowledge of the 
truths of God. And hence his word was in " power, 
and in much assurance, and in the Holy Ghost," — 
the hearts of God's people vibrating to the truths he 
uttered, while sinners were made to feel that they 
stood in the presence of a man commissioned of " God 
to show unto them the way of salvation." 

The life of such a man is an expressive comment 
upon the gospel he preaches, and his death a power 
ful attestation to its truth and excellence. He indeed, 
while struggling in the arms of death, and in full view 
of eternity, said with holy triumph, " The goodness 
and love of God to me are great and marvellous, as I 


254 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

go down the declivity of death." And so unclouded 
was his understanding and tranquil his spirit in the 
hour of his dissolution, that his true greatness was 
never before so fully appreciated by his friends. 

Henry Willis was also a " burning and a shining 
light." He was naturally of a strong mind, and this 
he diligently improved by an assiduous application to 
reading and observation. After he became so debili- 
tated that he was not able to devote himself exclu- 
sively to the traveling ministry, considering that his 
call to this work was from God, he did not dare de- 
sist from doing all he could, while he so applied him- 
self to temporal business as not to be dependent on 
the church for a support. Systematic in all his move- 
ments, zealous in whatever he undertook to do, and 
uniform in his obedience to the commands of God, he 
accomplished much in a short time, and with compara- 
tively slender means. In the various relations he sus- 
tained, whether as a son, a husband, a father, or a 
minister of Jesus Christ, he exemplified the duties 
originating from them, thus giving evidence that real 
religion has its appropriate duties, and that all could 
be discharged without interfering one with another. 

He commenced his ministry in 1779, and from 
that time forth filled some of the most important sta- 
tions in the Church, in the states of South and North 
Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New- 
York, and in the new countries west of the Alleghany 
mountains ; and he continued his exertions in the cause 
of God until 1795, when, being worn down with la- 
bor, he received a supernumerary relation, and was 
stationed in the city of Baltimore. This relation he 
held from this lime until the day of his death, labor- 


ing, as before said, with his own hands, that he " might 
be chargeable to none," for the support of himself and 
family. He was everywhere received as a messen- 
ger of God, and was long remembered by those who 
sat under his ministry, with most affectionate venera- 
tion, as having been an instrument of lasting benefit to 
their souls. The record of his death, which states that 
he died with a triumphant faith in Jesus Christ, calls 
him a " great man of God," an appellation which 
shows the high estimation in which he was held by 
those best capable of appreciating his worth. 

J3e died early in the year 1808, in the full hope 
of " immortality and eternal life," leaving behind him, 
as the most valuable legacy which a father can be- 
queath lo his children or a minister to the church, a 
"good name" — the remembrance of which "is as 
precious ointment poured forth." 

Of Bennet Kendrick excellent things are said, as 
well as of Richard Swaim. They were both faithful 
and successful in their ministry, and died the peace- 
ful death of the righteous. 

The following account of Captain Thomas Webb, 
which should have appeared under date of 1796, was 
inadvertently omitted until those pages were printed 
off. But as he was one of the two first Methodist 
preachers who came to America, he deserves a re- 
spectful notice among the worthies of that chivalrous 
age of Methodism when the sword of the Lord and 
of Wesley was so successfully wielded in conquering 
souls to Jesus Christ. 

It has indeed been affirmed by some, that Capt. 
Webb was the founder of Methodism in New- York ; 
but this, I am confident, is a mistake, as I took much 


256 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

pains to ascertain the facts in relation to the society 
in this city, and received them from the lips of per- 
sons who had a personal knowledge and perfect recol- 
lection of all the circumstances as they are related in 
the second chapter of the first volume of this work. 

Nevertheless, Capt. Webb contributed much by his 
prayers, preaching, and example, to build up the cause 
of God, to increase the number, and to strengthen* 
the hearts and hands of the society in the city of 

He was a soldier of the British army, and was 
with Gen. Wolfe at the conquest of Quebec in 1758, 
and during the engagement on the plains of Abraham, 
under the walls of the city, he received a wound in 
his arm and lost his right eye, on account of which 
he ever after wore a bandage over that part of his 
head, as may be seen by an inspection of the likeness 
which accompanies this volume. At this time, the 
fear of God was not before his eyes ; but on his re- 
turn to England, in the year 1764, he was brought 
to see himself a sinner through the preaching of Mr. 
Wesley in the city of Bristol. He then became ac- 
quainted with an evangelical minister of the establish- 
ment, and through him with the Methodists, with whom 
he soon after united himself, and found the " pearl of 
great price." 

Having his heart fired with love to God and his fel- 
low-men, he began to entreat them to " flee the wrath 
to come," and to believe in Jesus Christ to the saving 
of their souls. In his first appearance in public as a 
preacher, which was in the city of Bath, in England, 
he dwelt chiefly on his own experience of divine 
things ; but the people who heard him were edified 


and refreshed under his public exercises, which great- 
ly encouraged hitn to persevere in this labor of love 

Not long after this, in the year 1765 or 1766, he 
was appointed barrack-master of Albany, in the colony 
of New-York. Here he set up family prayer in his 
own house, which some of his neighbors frequently 
attended, to whom he gave a word of exhortation and 
advice. The blessing of God attending these incipient 
efforts to do good, he was induced to extend his la- 
bors, and he began holding meetings among his fellow- 
soldiers and others who wished to attend. 

After the arrival of Mr. Embury and his associates 
in* New-York, Capt. Webb, hearing of their having 
begun to hold meetings, paid them a visit. His first 
appearance among them was in the public assembly, 
and as he wore the uniform of a British captain, the 
little society were fearful at first, that he had come to 
" spy out their liberties in Christ ;" but, as already 
related in the account given of the rise of this society, 
when they saw him kneel in prayer and devoutly par- 
ticipate with them in their acts of devotion, their fears 
were exchanged for joy, and they hailed " him as a 
brother beloved." He was therefore soon invited to 
preach, which he did with great energy and accept- 
ance. His appearance in the pulpit in the costume of 
a military officer, with his sword either lying by his 
side or swinging in its scabbard, was a novelty that 
attracted much attention and excited no little surprise 
among the citizens who attended the meetings. His 
preaching, however, was in demonstration and power, 
and he generally related his own experience as an 
evidence of the truth of his doctrine respecting experi- 
mental religion. But his experience being very 


258 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

deep, as he had a severe struggle while passing from 
death to life, and also obtained an unclouded witness 
of his acceptance in the Beloved, it is stated by those 
who heard him in those days, that he always took 
care to guard weak believers against " casting away 
their confidence," because they could not realize the 
same bright testimony of their justification by faith in 
Christ with which he had been so highly favored. 

He did not, however, confine his labors to New- 
York and Albany. The records of those days repre- 
sent him as visiting Philadelphia and Long Island, 
where he preached with success, the Lord setting his 
seal to the words of his servant. He was, indeed, 
mighty in the Scriptures, and very pointed in his ap- 
peals to the consciences of unconverted sinners ; and 
the result proved that the Spirit of God accompanied 
his energetic labors, to the awakening and conversion 
of souls. 

How long he remained in America I cannot tell ; 
but in 1772 we find from a letter of Mr. Wesley, that 
he was in Dublin in Ireland, and Mr. Wesley says of 
him, " he is a man of fire, and the power of God con- 
stantly accompanies his word." In 1773 Mr. Wesley 
speaks of his preaching at the Foundry in London, 
and says, " I admire the wisdom of God in still raising 
up various preachers, according to the various tastes 
of men. The captain is all life and fire ; there- 
fore, although he is not deep or regular, yet many, 
who would not hear a better preacher, flock together 
to hear him. And many are convinced under his 
preaching ; some justified ; a few built up in love." 
Ten years after this he speaks of Capt. Webb's 
having "lately kindled a flame here," (in the neigh- 


borhood of Bath,) " and it is not yet gone out. Seve- 
ral persons were still rejoicing in God. 1 found his 
preaching in the street of Winchester had been bless- 
ed greatly. Many were more or less convinced of 
sin, and several had found peace with God. I never 
saw the house before so crowded with serious and 
attentive hearers." In 1785 he bears a similar tes- 
timony to his usefulness, in kindling up the fire of 
devotion among the people. 

From these testimonies it appears that Capt. Webb 
retained his piety and zeal in the cause of God, 
although Charles Wesley, whose charity was some- 
times a little cramped by his high notions of Church 
order, said, in a letter to Joseph Benson, that the 
captain was " an inexperienced, honest, zealous, loving 
enthusiast." His enthusiasm was that of a warm-heart- 
ed, " zealous, honest, and loving" servant of God, 
whose powers were devoted to the highest interests 
of mankind, — although we may allow that he lacked 
that extensive knowledge which is acquired only by 
a laborious application to study. 

His death is said to have been sudden. Having a 
presentiment of his approaching dissolution, a few 
days before his death he expressed his wishes to a 
friend respecting the place and manner of his inter- 
ment, adding, — " I should prefer a triumphant death ; 
but I may be taken away suddenly. However, I 
know I am happy in the Lord, and shall be with 
him, and that is sufficient." A little after 1 o'clock, 
on the 20th of December, 1796, after taking his sup- 
per and praying with his family, he went to his bed 
in apparent good health ; but shortly his breathing 
became difficult ; he arose and sat at the foot of the 

260 A HISTORY OF THE [1808. 

bed ; but while Mrs. Webb was standing by him, he 
fell back on the bed, and before any other person 
could be called, he sunk into the arms of death with- 
out any apparent pain, aged 72 years. 

It is matter of gratitude to God that Capt. Webb, 
as well as Mr. Embury, " held fast his confidence 
steadfast unto the end," and therefore " received the 
full reward" of his labors. Mr. Embury, after labor- 
ing successfully in the cause of Christ in New- York, 
removed to Ashgrove, where he ended his days in the 
service of his God, and where he lies entombed, min- 
gling his ashes with his relatives who have followed 
him to the grave, waiting for the " final doom," when 
the trump of God shall awaken him to life and im- 
mortality. Capt. Webb, after " sowing the good 
seed of the kingdom" in various places in this coun- 
try, returned to Europe, and spent the remainder of 
his days in " kindling the fire" of divine love in the 
hearts of God's people, in warning sinners of their 
impending danger, and pointing penitent mourners to 
the " Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the 
world." While therefore the one shall arise at the 
" voice of the Son of God" from his " dusty bed" in 
America, and receive the plaudits of those of her sons 
and daughters who were brought to God by his min- 
istry, the other shall come forth in obedience to the 
same mandate from his resting-place in England, 
and hail each other blessed amid the shouts of the re- 
deemed, while all, whether white or black, whether 
from the eastern or western continent, shall unitedly, 
and with one voice, ascribe the glory of their sal- 
vation to God and the Lamb for ever. 

In the meanwhile, were the happy spirits of these 


individuals, so obscure in their life time, and by some 
considered as merely " honest and loving enthusi- 
asts," permitted to look down on this American con- 
tinent, and behold the thousands which have been 
" taken out of the horrible pit and miry clay," and 
had " their robes washed and made white in the blood 
of the Lamb," since they commenced their humble 
efforts in the city of New-York, would not their souls 
exult in praises to God and the Lamb for having re- 
deemed them from the earth, and placed them among 
the princes of his people ! 

^Captain Webb was no doubt somewhat eccentric in 
his movements, limited in his knowledge, and of mode- 
rate talents as a preacher of the gospel ; but, from the 
testimony of Mr. Wesley and others who knew him 
well, his soul was fired with an ardent zeal for God, 
and was drawn out with an unquenchable thirst for 
the salvation of his fellow-men, and the building up 
of the Redeemer's kingdom. As such, God honored 
him with his blessing — and as such we honor his 
memory, and record this feeble tribute of respe«ct to 
him, as one of the first Wesleyan preachers who pub 
lished the gospel on these American shores. 

Numbers of Church members. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 121,687 30,308 151,995 540 
Last year 114,727 29,863 144,591 516 

Increase 6,960 445 7,405 24 

1809. The same number of conferences was held 
this year as last, and they were attended by the two 
bishops, in the usual manner. 

Several new circuits were added within the bounds 


262 A HISTORV OF THE [1809. 

of the Western conference, by which the work in 
that country was considerably enlarged. And, in 
addition to the sketches which have already been 
given of the commencement and progress of Method- 
ism in Ohio, may be added the following, taken chiefly 
from the narrative of the Rev. Henry Smith, who was 
among the first who carried the gospel into some por- 
tions of the country bordering upon the Ohio, and 
lying between the Big and Little Miami rivers, and the 
Sciota river. 

It seems that as early as 1799 Mr. Smith visited 
the settlements along the banks of the Miami river, 
including the Miami and Sciota counties, and being 
assisted by Mr. Hunt, formed a six weeks' circuit, 
which they traveled with no small difficulty. He 
found the country thinly inhabited, but among those 
who had settled there, were a number who had been 
Methodists in the countries whence they came, some 
retaining their piety, and others in a backslidden 
state. On the Scioto Bush creek, and at the mouth 
of the Scioto river, he found several Methodist fami- 
lies, among the latter of whom was a local preacher 
by the name of William Jackson. Here he formed 
a class. 

Over this country, along the banks of the Miamis 
and their tributary streams, he traveled, often ex- 
posed to hardships and privations which few could 
well endure, but was abundantly compensated by a 
consciousness of the divine approbation, and by wit- 
nessing the blessing of God on his labors. Many 
sinners were brought to the knowledge of the truth by 
his agency, who afterward brought forth the fruits of 
righteousness to the glorv of God. 


From this time, as we have already seen, the work 
continued to spread in various directions, until the time 
of which we now speak, when Miami was the district of 
a presiding elder, with six circuits, employing thirteen 
preachers, including the presiding elder ; and in 1810 
there were four thousand seven hundred and eighty-four 
members in the Church. 

Though we had no Missionary Society at that time, 
nor consequently any funds for the support of those 
who went into the new settlements, yet Bishop As- 
bury was in the habit, as he passed through the more 
wealthy portions of the work, of soliciting donations 
from benevolent individuals for the purpose of sus- 
taining those who might volunteer their services to 
" break up new ground," as it was then not unaptly 
called. And this year we find Robert Cloud attached 
as a missionary to the Muskingum district, James H. 
Mellard to the Seleuda district, to labor between the 
Ashley and Savannah rivers, and James E. Glenn to 
the Camden district, to occupy the country between 
Santee and Cooper rivers. By this means, the gospel 
was sent to these destitute settlements, "without money 
and without price." William Case was also sent as 
a missionary to Detroit in the Michigan territory ; 
and an attempt was made to introduce the gospel at 
the Three rivers in Lower Canada, a place about 
midway between Montreal and Quebec. 

A new circuit was formed this year in the bounds 
of the western conference, called Cold Water, Upper 
Louisiana, in the fork of the Mississippi, by the 
labors of John Crane, a young man of precocious 
genius, and remarkable for the early exhibitions of 
talent and piety, and those powers of pulpit oratory 


264 A HISTORY OF THE [1809. 

which attract the attention of the multitude. In this 
new country he had a full opportunity for the exer- 
cise of all his energies in contending with hardships, 
in combating the errors and prejudices of the people, 
and in striving to establish societies in the pure doc- 
trines of Christ. He succeeded so far as to return the 
next year seventy-five members of the Church as the 
fruits of his ministry. He was reappointed in 1810 
to the same field of labor, with the Missouri circuit 
added to Cold Water, which made his rides long, and 
the more difficult, for want of roads and bridges, 
as he was frequently obliged to swim his horse over 
the Missouri river in passing from one appointment to 
another — a practice by no means uncommon in those 
days, when the forests were falling beneath the strokes 
of the woodsman's axe, and the traveler was wending 
his way by Indian tracks, or merely guided by marked 

In addition to this enlargement of the field of labor 
in the exterior settlements, prosperity attended the 
efforts of God's servants in various portions of the 
work, in the older countries, and in several of the 
principal cities. 

The brethren in Boston had suffered much incon- 
venience on account of the smallness of their house 
of worship. To remedy this inconvenience, they had 
commenced a larger house in Bloomfield lane, some 
two or three years before ; but as the members of the 
society were comparatively poor, they found them- 
selves embarrassed with a heavy debt, which they 
were unable to pay. To relieve them from this 
pressure, the General Conference of 1808 had au- 
thorized a general subscription to be taken among the 


more wealthy societies, by which they were enabled 
to pay off a portion of their debt, and thus to accom- 
modate the people who wished to attend the Method- 
ist ministry. This gave a new impulse to the cause 
in that city, and it has steadily progressed from that 
time with more encouraging success than heretofore. 

The camp-meetings continued to be held more 
generally than ever, and were owned of God to the 
awakening and conversion of sinners, and tended much 
to quicken the people of God in their own souls, and 
to stimulate them to more vigorous exertions for the 
salvation of others. And as this history may be read 
by -some who have never attended these meetings, it 
may not be out of place to give a description of the 
manner in which they are attended. 

"We have already seen that they were introduced 
casually, or it may be more proper to say, providen- 
tially, in the western country, at a sacramental occa- 
sion, when such a number of people attended that no 
house could be found large enough to accommodate 
them. The good effects resulting from these meet- 
ings soon led to a regular method of holding them in 
different parts of the country by previous appointment 
and preparation. For this purpose, a grove is gene- 
rally selected, in the neighborhood of good water, and, 
if possible, in such a place that the people may go by 
water, in sloops or steam-boats. The under brush is 
cleared away, seats of boards or plank and a stand for 
the preachers are prepared in convenient order. On 
the ground thus prepared tents are erected, from twenty 
to two hundred in number, of different sizes and ma- 
terial, some of cloth and some of boards, but more 
generally of the former. These temporary shelters 

Vol. II.— 12 

266 A HISTORY OF THE [1809. 

are of various sizes, some for single families, and 
some sufficiently large to hold from twenty to fifty, 
and perhaps a hundred individuals, and others, for the 
accommodation of such as choose it, are for boarding- 

On the day appointed, the people are seen assem- 
bling from various directions, some in carriages or 
wagons from the country, and a multitude of others 
from the cities and villages along the water courses, 
in sloops or steamboats, with their bedding, cooking 
utensils and provisions ; for the meeting generally 
continues four or five days, and in some instances 
eight or nine days. These all repair to their places, 
and, if not already done for them, erect their tents, and 
prepare for the solemn exercises of the meeting. 

The tents are generally arranged in a circular form 
in front of the stand, and in those held in the neigh- 
borhood of the city of New- York, with which I am 
best acquainted, the rows of tents are from three to 
six deep, and arranged on several streets, numbered 
and labelled, so that they may be distinguished one 
from another, and passed between. The fires for 
cooking are in general behind the tents, so that the 
people may not be discommoded with the smoke, &c. 

Lamps are prepared, and suspended on the trunks of 
the trees, and -on the preachers' stand, in sufficient num- 
ber to illuminate the entire encampment, and each tent 
must have a light burning in it through the night, 
and the utmost pains are taken to see that no disor- 
derly conduct be allowed on the ground by either 
night or day. The rules and orders of the meeting 
are generally as follows, varying so as to suit differ- 
ent circumstances : — 


1. The times of preaching are 10 o'clock, A. M., 
and 3 and 7 o'clock, P. M., notice of which is given 
by the sound of a trumpet or horn at the preachers' 

2. The intermediate time between preaching is oc- 
cupied in prayer meetings, singing, and exhortation. 

3. In time of worship persons are prohibited from 
walking to and fro, talking, smoking, or otherwise dis- 
turbing the solemnities of the meeting. 

4. All are required, except on the last night of the 
meeting, to be in their tents at 10 o'clock, P. M., and 
to arise at 5, A. M. 

5. At 6 o'clock, A. M., they are required to take 
their breakfast, before which family prayer is attended 
in each tent occupied by a family. 

6. In time of preaching all are required to attend, 
except one to take care of the tent. 

7. That these rules may be observed, they are 
published from the stand, and a committee appointed 
to enforce them. 

8. A watch is generally appointed to superintend 
the encampment at night, to keep order, to see that 
no stragglers are on the ground, and to detect any 
disorderly conduct. 

9. In some places there are large tents provided, 
at the expense of the society to which they belong, 
for the purpose of holding prayer-meetings, more par- 
ticularly in the evening, or in rainy weather. 

10. In the city of New-York the entire arrange- 
ment and preparation of the meeting, providing tents, 
putting them up and taking them down, is under the 
superintendence of a committee appointed for that 
purpose by the presiding elder of the district, who 


2G8 A HISTORY OF THE [1809. 

also procure the steamboat to take the people to and 
from the meeting ; and each person who chooses to 
go pays a certain amount, commonly about one dollar, 
for passage, use of tent, fuel, straw, &c. 

This is a general description of a camp-meeting. 
The number attending varies from five hundred to ten 
thousand — and, as we have before seen, when they 
were first introduced in the west, to twenty thousand — 
in proportion to the paucity or density of the popula- 
tion. That good has resulted from these meetings 
must be evident to every impartial person who has 
either attended them or witnessed their effects — al- 
though it must be admitted that some accidental evils 
have flowed from them. But these have originated 
chiefly from the attendance of persons who have gone 
for other purposes than to worship God. Though 
most of the state legislatures have passed laws to 
protect the free exercise of religious meetings, and 
some to protect camp-meetings in particular, yet 
there are those in the community who, actuated by 
mercenary motives, will go and set up hucksters' 
shops, sell ' strong liquors and other things, and then 
invite the thoughtless rabble to convene for convivial 
purposes, to the annoyance of the peaceable worship- 
ers of God. These have often created disturbances, 
and they always, when arranged along the road lead- 
ing to the encampment, present a spectacle to the 
sober mind of a disgusting character. But they who 
provide those things and partake of them, are alone 
responsible for the evils which they create. Neither 
camp-meetings nor those who attend them for religious 
purposes are accountable for the disorderly conduct 
of those who, in defiance of law, of religion, and de- 


cency, violate the order of the meeting, and bring on 
themselves the disgrace of being disturbers of the 
peace. For such conduct the friends of camp-meet- 
ings are no more responsible than the builders of 
churches and those who peaceably worship God in 
them, are accountable for any disturbance which a 
wicked rabble may make within, or for the conduct 
of a riotous mob without these sacred temples. 

Were all who come within the encampment, or who 
go to the meeting, to observe the order prescribed, there 
need be no more disorder than there should be in a 
house of worship. 

It has been objected that professors of religion 
themselves often violate the rules of religious order by 
unseemly gesticulations and boisterous exclamations. 
It may, indeed, be so — and we no more justify these 
things than we do the same exceptionable conduct in 
other places — but there is nothing in the time, the 
place, or the object of coming together, which need 
excite these censurable manifestations, more than in 
any other place of worship. " Let all things be done 
decently and in order" at camp-meetings, and they 
shall still be rendered a blessing, as they have here- 
tofore been, to the souls of the people. There is 
greater danger at present arising from their degene- 
rating into seasons of idle recreation, than of their 
being abused by ranting fanaticism. In the neigh- 
borhood of large cities, where the meetings are easy 
of access by steamboats, which ply constantly to and 
from the encampment, there is an alluring temptation 
for the idle and the gay, as well as for the luke-warm 
professors of religion, to go to the meetings as mere 
matters of amusement, and thus to make the nominal 


270 A HISTORY OF THE [1809. 

service of God a pretext to gratify a roving and in- 
quisitive disposition. Whenever these and similar 
evils shall threaten to counterbalance the good, the 
friends of pure religion will either apply the corrective 
or abandon camp-meetings as a nuisance or as a 
means susceptible of an incurable abuse. But while 
they are kept under the control of a sober judgment, 
and attended from a pure desire to advance the cause 
of Christ, they will be patronised by the pious as one 
of the prudential means of effecting the salvation of 

I know not that I can furnish the reader with a 
juster idea of a well conducted camp-meeting, than 
by inserting the following account of one held at 
Cowharbor, Long Island, in the state of New-York, 
August 11, 1818. It was written indeed under the 
impulse of those vivid sensations which were pro- 
duced by a participation in the solemn exercises of 
the occasion, and by a glow of fervent feeling which 
may have betrayed the writer into a warmth of ex- 
pression which none but those similarly situated know 
how to interpret and appreciate. If this, however, 
be a fault, it should be considered a pardonable one, 
as it arises principally from a strong and lively feel- 
ing of devotion which the writer felt at the time ; and 
yet, I humbly trust, it was written under the dictates 
of a cool and reflecting judgment, chastened and hal- 
lowed by a grateful recollection of the goodness of 
God. The following is the account alluded to : — 

" An unusual number of people were assembled on Tues- 
day, when the exercises began under the most favorable 
auspices. The word of the Lord which was delivered, was 
received by the people with apparent eagerness and de« 


light. Great peace and harmony prevailed ; and the prayers 
of God's people were fervent and incessant. In the eve- 
ning there were some conversions. 

" There were between forty and fifty sloops in the har-. 
bor ; and it was judged that there were from six to eight 
thousand people on the encampment ; and, what was most 
desirable, great order and solemnity prevailed. 

" According to the order of the meeting, the people this 
night retired to rest at ten o'clock. The next morning open- 
ed a delightful prospect to a contemplative mind. The 
rising sun in the east, darting his lucid beams through the 
grove, which was now rendered vocal by the voice of 
morning prayer in the several tents, announced the super- 
intending care, and proclaimed the majesty of Him who 
maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good. The 
gentle zephyrs softly whispering through the foliage of the 
beautiful grove, now consecrated to God, was an expressive 
emblem of that divine Spirit which so sweetly filled the 
soul and tranquilized all the passions of the human heart. 
Not a turbulent passion was permitted to interrupt the 
sacred peace and divine harmony which the heavenly 
Dove had imparted to God's beloved people. The exer- 
cises of this day were solemn, impressive, and divinely 
animating. The falling tear from many eyes witnessed 
the inward anguish which was produced in the hearts of 
■sinners by the word of eternal truth. Those trembling 
sinners, groaning under the weight of their sins, were en- 
circled by God's people, and lifted to his throne in the arms 
of faith and prayer. Some were disburthened of their load ; 
and their shouts of praise testified that Jesus had become 
their Friend, 

" The departure of the sun under the western horizon 
indicated the time to have arrived for the intelligent cre- 
ation to lose themselves once more in 

' Tir'd nature's sweet restorer, balmy sloop,' 


272 A HISTORY OF THE 1809. 

But, while some obeyed the impulse of nature, and suffered 
the soft slumbers of the evening shades to lock up their 
external senses, others, animated by the love of God, and 
attracted by the sympathetic groans of wounded sinners, 
whose piercing cries ascended to heaven, committing 
themselves to the protection of God, assembled in groups, 
and united their petitions and intercessions to almighty God 
in behalf of themselves and their mourning fellow-creatures. 
Neither did they labor in vain ; for some of these mourning 
penitents emerged into the liberties of the gospel. About 
midnight I was attracted by the shouts of an intimate friend, 
who had been sometime overwhelmed upon the stand with 
the power of God. In company with some of the young 
disciples of Christ, I drew near, while he proclaimed the 
wonders of redeeming love. I at first looked on with the 
criticising eye of cool philosophy, determined not to be 
carried away with passionate exclamations. Bracing my- 
self as much as possible, I was resolved my passions 
should not get the ascendancy over my judgment. But, in 
spite of all my philosophy, my prejudice, and my resist- 
ance, my heart suddenly melted like wax before the fire, 
and my nerves seemed in a moment relaxed. These de- 
vout exercises were finally interrupted by a shower of 
rain ; but the showers of grace descended so plentifully 
that sleep could not be persuaded to visit many of our 
eyes. So we sang 

• With thee all night I mean to stay, 
And wrestle till the break of day.' 

" The next day was remarkable on account of the pres- 
ence of Him who dwelt in the bush. The sermons were 
pointed, lively, and solemn. The prayers were ardent, 
faithful, and persevering. The singing melodious, and cal- 
culated to elevate the mind to the third heaven. The 
shouts of redeeming love were solemnly delightful ; and 


the cries of penitent sinners deep and piercing. Not- 
withstanding the almost incessant labors of the last twen- 
ty-four hours, when night came on many seemed deter- 
mined not to intermit their religious exercises. Their 
souls being knit together by divine love, they persevered 
in their prayers and exhortations ; some heavy-laden sin- 
ners, delivered from their sins, were enabled to praise 
God for his pardoning mercy. 

" Friday was the day appointed to close our meeting. 
It had been unusually solemn, and profitable to many, 
very many souls ; and the hour of separation was antici- 
pated with reluctance. The exercises of this day were 
attended with an uncommon manifestation of the power 
and presence of God. The mournful cries of penitent 
sinners were many and strong ; and the professors of re- 
ligion were ardently engaged in praying for them ; and 
not a few were groaning for full redemption in the blood 
of the Lamb. While engaged in this exercise, some of 
the preachers were baptized afresh with the Holy Ghost 
and fire ; and their cup ran over with love to God and to 
the souls of men. 

" After the meeting was closed, circumstances rendered 
it expedient for the people from New-York, and some others, 
to remain on the ground another night. This news was 
received by most of the people with delightful sensations. 
Indeed, the place had become a sanctified Bethel to our 

" At 6 o'clock, P. M., the people were summoned to the 
stand for preaching. The preacher who was to address 
them, after singing and prayer, read the following text : — ■ 
' God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake 
in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these 
last days spoken unto us by his Son.' Not being able to 
proceed, a preacher standing near one of the tents, perceiv- 
ing his situation, went on the stand, took the text which had 


274 A HISTORY OF THE [1809. 

been read, and made some observations upon it, which were 
attended with divine authority, and with the unction of the 
Holy One. Many fell to the ground under the mighty 
power of God, while the shouts of the redeemed seemed 
to rend the heavens, and to be carried on the waves of 
the undulating air to the distant hills, and in their rolling 
melody proclaimed the praises of Him who sits upon the 
throne and of the Lamb. 

" This was one of the most awfully solemn scenes my 
eyes ever beheld. Such a sense of the ineffable Majesty 
rested upon my soul, that I was lost in astonishment, won- 
der, and profound adoration. Human language cannot 
express the solemn, the delightful, the deep and joyful 
sensation which pervaded my soul. Nor me alone. It 
was a general shower of divine love. It seemed as if the 
windows of heaven were opened, and such a blessing 
poured out that there was scarcely room to contain it. 
The glory of the God-man shone with divine lustre all 
around, and filled every believing heart. Singing, prayer, 
and exhortation were continued more or less until 3 o'clock 
next morning, the hour appointed to prepare to leave the 
consecrated ground. Many were the subjects of convert 
ing grace ; and great was the joy of the happy Christians. 

" About 8 o'clock, A. M., Saturday, those of us from 
the city embarked in the steam-boat Connecticut, Captain 
Bunker, whose polite attention deserves our warmest 
thanks. It seemed like leaving the place of the divine 
Shekinah, and going into the world again — but still the 
presence of our God rested upon us. 

" I trust the fruits of this camp-meeting will be exten- 
sively witnessed. Not only sinners were awakened and 
converted, but very many believers were quickened, and 
the work of grace was deepened in their hearts ; and some 
who had been languid in their spiritual enjoyments formed 
resolutions to be entirely devoted to God. May they never 


violate their solemn vow, nor suffer their serious impres- 
sions to be effaced. Let no vain amusement, no trifling 
company, nor any worldly concern divert your attention, 
ye young professors of religion, or ever efface from your 
minds those solemn impressions of God, and of his good- 
ness, which you have received. 

" The writer of this imperfect sketch feels as if he 
should praise God in eternity for this camp-meeting. 
What a sacred fire has been kindled at this holy altar. 
May many waters never extinguish it. It is not a tran- 
sient blaze or a sudden ecstasy. No ; my soul bows with 
submission to my God, and thankfully acknowledges the 
continuance of his loving kindness. The bare recollection 
of* that solemn pause — when Jesus spoke — with a voice 
more melodious than all the harps of the muses — fills my 
soul with solemn delight. 

" Sometimes when I have indulged in the cool specu- 
lations which worldly prudence would suggest, so many 
objections have been raised in my mind against camp- 
meetings, that I have been ready to proclaim war against 
them ; but these objections have uniformly been obviated 
by witnessing the beneficial effects of the meetings while 
attending them. My theories have all been torn in pieces 
while testing them by actual experiment — but never more 
effectually than by this last. This is more convincing 
than all the arguments in the world. What I experience 
I know ; and hundreds of others, equally competent to de- 
cide, would, were they called upon, bear a similar testi- 
mony. ! ye happy souls that were bathed in the love 
of God at this meeting ! May you ever evince to the world 
by the uniformity of your Christian conduct, that such 
meetings are highly useful. 

" An indescribable pleasure is even now felt from re- 
viewing those moments of solemn delight, while our kin- 
dred spirits, attracted by the love of Jesus Christ, joyfully 



adored the God of our salvation. May such seasons of 
refreshing often return. O ! the depth of redeeming love ! 

' Angel minds are lost to ponder 
Dying love's mysterious cause.' 

" One thing which contributed greatly to the promotion 
of the cause of God at this meeting was the order and 
regularity which prevailed. There was little or no dis- 
turbance from spectators ; and but little confusion in any 
of the religious exercises. Sometimes, indeed, the ardor 
of the mind, when powerfully operated upon by the Spirit 
of God, would lead it to break over the bounds of modera- 
tion ; but in general the exercises were conducted with 
much decorum and regularity. Hymns were selected 
which were solemn and impressive ; and the prayers and 
exhortations, as well as the preaching, all indicated that 
the mind was under the direction of grace. 

" How many were brought to the experience of redeem- 
ing grace, cannot be correctly ascertained ; but the number 
must have been very considerable. New- York, as well as 
other places, will, I trust, be greatly profited by means of 
this meeting. A general quickening is already witnessed, 
and some sinners have been awakened and converted 
since our return. May their numbers be continually mul- 

That the reader may see that similar effects attend- 
ed camp-meetings in other parts of the country, I 
give the following, which was written by the Rev. 
William Beauchamp — since gone to his reward — 
who was remarkable for the coolness and soundness 
of his judgment, and freedom from every thing bor- 
dering upon enthusiasm. This account is as follows : — 

" A camp-meeting was lately held, about thirty-five miles 
from this place, in a south-westerly direction, under the 


superintendence of brother John Stewart, the traveling 
Methodist preacher having the charge of Mount Carmel 
circuit. It commenced on the afternoon of Friday, the 
20th day of last month, and closed on the morning of the 
following Monday. The congregation was not large, usu- 
ally about three hundred souls ; on the sabbath perhaps 
six hundred. This meeting was remarkable for serious- 
ness, solemnity, and good order. Such a sense of the 
divine presence appeared to rest on the assembly, that 
those who might have been disposed to be rude were re- 
strained, and awed into respectful deportment. It was 
obvious that the ministers who addressed the people were 
cjpthed, both in their sermons and exhortations, with power 
from on high ; for their word fell upon the congregation 
in the demonstration of the Holy Ghost. Divine illumina- 
tion seemed, at times, to flash like lightning upon the as- 
sembly, and produced the most powerful effects. The 
mild splendor of heavenly joy shone in the faces of the 
people of God ; while the darkness of condemnation and 
the horrors of guilt hung, like the shadows of death, upon 
the countenances of the ungodly. The merciful power of 
God was manifested in a particular manner in the convic- 
tion of sinners and the justification of mourning penitents ; 
while believers were not destitute of its divine influence, 
by which they drank deeper into the spirit of holiness. 

"In the intervals of preaching, it was common to see a 
number of mourning souls prostrate near the stand, for 
whom supplications were offered unto a throne of grace. 
And they were not offered in vain. About twenty pro- 
fessed to be reconciled to God through faith in the blood 
of Christ. Several joined our Church. 

" On Monday morning, under the last sermon preached 
at this meeting, we seemed to be in the very suburbs of 
heaven. The subject was, ' The inheritance of the saints 
in light? The preacher, apparently swallowed up in the 


278 A HISTORY OF THE [1809. 

subject, bore the congregation away with him into the 
celestial regions, in the contemplation of the glories of the 
world to come. It was a very precious time to the reli- 
gious part of the assembly ; and the irreligious part, I 
doubt not, received some very strong and deep impres- 
sions of the eternal world. I know not that there was 
one dry eye in the whole assembly. 

" On the Friday following another camp-meeting com- 
menced in the neighborhood of this place. In respect to 
numbers it was similar to the former one ; nor was it less 
remarkable in regard to seriousness, solemnity, and good 
order. In this respect I can truly say, that, though I have 
been at many camp-meetings, I never saw such as these 
before. We had no guard ; and at the last meeting no 
rules, for the regulations of it, were published. We needed 
none. God was our defence and salvation. He encamped 
with us in his gracious and glorious presence, to awe the 
wicked into respect for his worship, and to shed upon the 
children of faith the richest effusions of divine grace. 

" The latter of these meetings was different, in some 
respects, from the former. The preaching did not appear 
to be attended with so much power, and such displays of 
divine illumination. But the prayer-meetings in the inter- 
vals were more abundantly distinguished by the commu- 
nication of justifying grace, in answer to the supplications 
of the people of God. About forty-five professed to re- 
ceive the forgiveness of sins, and twenty-three offered 
themselves to become members of our Church. 

" One circumstance is worthy of particular notice. A 
Scotch family, remarkable for good breeding and propriety 
of deportment, attended this meeting. They were eight 
in number ; the elderly gentleman, his lady, three daugh- 
ters, two sons, and a nephew. The female head of this 
family was not destitute of the knowledge of salvation by 
the remission of sins. This treasure she had obtained in 


her native country. But the rest were not in posses- 
sion of this pearl of great price. However, in the course 
of a few hours, at this meeting, they were all power- 
fully convicted, and, I have reason to believe, truly con- 
verted to God. 

" This is a singular circumstance. Such a family as 
this was is rarely found ; and the conversion of seven per- 
sons out of eight belonging to it, under such circumstan- 
ces, within the compass of a few hours, is, perhaps, almost 
without a parallel. It will not escape the notice of the 
pious mind, accustomed to reflect on the workings of na- 
ture and the operations of grace, that the self-righteous- 
ness of such persons generally presents the strongest bar- 
rier against faith. But the power of divine grace broke 
down this barrier in them ; then they sunk, in humble con- 
fidence, on the merits of the Redeemer. 

" The presiding elder who attended this meeting, in- 
formed me that many camp-meetings had been held in his 
district, and that they had been generally blessed with 
great displays of divine power. Since then I have received 
information through another medium, that a camp-meeting 
held not far from Shawneetown in this state was favored 
with an abundant outpouring of the grace of God. More 
than thirty persons professed to obtain the remission of 
their sins. 

" The writer of this communication has remarked for a 
number of years past, that a large proportion of those who 
are brought to the possession of the life and power of 
godliness, are found among the rising generation. This 
was particularly so at the meetings above mentioned. 
Does this not strongly portend that God is about to effect 
some great and glorious purpose in favor of his church, by 
the generation which is to succeed us ? Thanks be unto 
his name for what he has done. But he has more in store 
for our world than we can readily conceive. May his 


280 A HISTORY OF THE [1810. 

goodness be manifested in such gracious displays of Al- 
mighty power as will bear down all opposition. Amen. 
"Mount Camel, Illinois, Aug. 15', 1821." 

These accounts, together with the preceding histo- 
rical sketches and remarks, will enable the dispassion- 
ate reader to form an estimate of the character of 
camp-meetings, and of their effects upon the church 
and society generally. 

No less than fifty-three preachers located this 
year ; eight were returned superannuated, and one 
was expelled. 

Three preachers, namely, Edmund Henly, Leonard 
Cassell, and Henry Martin, had ended their days in 
peace. They were all comparatively young in the 
ministry, but had discharged its duties with fidelity, 
giving evidence of fervent piety and improving talents. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 131,154 31,884 163,038 597 
Last year 121,687 30,308 151,995 540 

Increase 9,467 1,576 11,043 57 

1810. This year the Genesee Conference was 
formed, making eight in all. Such had been the in- 
crease of preachers and people in western New-York 
and in the Canadas, particularly in the upper pro- 
vince, that the bishops thought it advisable, in the 
exercise of the authority invested in them by the last 
General Conference, to set off a new conference for 
the accommodation of that part of the work. 

This year the Western conference was held in Cin- 
cinnati, Ohio where Methodism had grown up with 


the growth of the place, and strengthened with its 
strength. And as this is considered the " queen city" 
of the west, perhaps it may not be amiss to give 
some account of its location and first settlements, as 
well as the progress of the gospel among its inhabit- 

Cincinnati was first laid out as a town in 1789, 
when the population could not have been more than 
between two and three hundred, for in 1800 it was 
only seven hundred and fifty — whereas now it num- 
bers more than forty thousand. 

It is beautifully located on the western bank of the 
Ohio river, in Hamilton county, on a plain, the hills 
behind it rising like a spacious amphitheatre, giving 
a commanding view of the city, the Ohio river, and 
the surrounding country, variegated as it is by hill 
and dale. 

By whom and at what time Methodism was intro- 
duced into Cincinnati, I have not been able to learn, 
but presume it must have been about the year 1800, 
under the labors of Henry Smith, as he formed what 
was called the Miami circuit about that lime, to which 
Cincinnati was attached until the year 1809. In the 
year 1805 Bishops Asbury and Whalcoat visited the 
town, and put up at the house of William Lives. At 
that time there were few in the place who feared 
God, and but a small society of Methodists. Bishop 
Asbury, however, gave them a discourse on " Seek 
ye the Lord while he may be found."* In 1807 
Bishop Asbury was again in Cincinnati, and remarks 
that the brethren had succeeded in building a stone 
house of worship, forty feet by thirty, which, it is 

* See his Journal, vol. Hi. p. 178. 


282 A HISTORY OF THE [1810 

presumed, was the first built in that city. Here he 
preached on Sabbath, Sept. 26, to a crowded house, 
and then met the society and ordained W. M'Neachan 
and William Whitiker to the office of deacon.* 

Before his arrival in Cincinnati the bishop had at- 
tended a camp-meeting at Hockhocking, and a con- 
ference at Chilicothe, of which he speaks as having 
a salutary effect upon the minds of the people. " Not- 
withstanding," he remarks, " opposition from more than 
one quarter, our last camp-meeting was successful ; 
the fruit is immediate ; and where it is not it will yet 
be seen." 

In 1808, after traversing various parts of the coun- 
try, attending camp and other meetings, we find him, 
in company with Henry Boehm, who preached to the 
people of Cincinnati in the German language, again 
in this place, where he preached on Sabbath morn- 
ing to the people with much satisfaction, and again at 
3 o'clock in the house of brother Lakin. He says 
in this connection, " I have advised the society here 
to invite the Western yearly conference to hold their 
session in Cincinnati." 

The next year, in company with Bishop M'Ken- 
dree, we find him once more in Cincinnati, when he 
remarks : — " The house here is enlarged, and the so- 
ciety increased." 

Until the year 1809, the Miami circuit included 
Cincinnati, and contained one thousand two hundred 
and eighty church members. But at the conference 
for 1809 the name of the circuit was changed to Cin- 
cinnati, and Miami became the name of a new dis- 
trict. This year, 1810, there are returned on the mi- 
* See his Journal, vol. iii. p. 234. 


nutes of conference for Cincinnati, eight hundred and 
twenty-one church members, under the charge of two 
preachers ; but whether it included any other places 
than the city, I cannot tell. 

This year, as before said, in accordance with the 
advice of Bishop Asbury, the Western conference was 
held in Cincinnati. He arrived there on Thursday, 
the 27th of September, and on Sunday preached 
morning and evening, met the society on Monday, 
and " I-felt," says he, " an intimate communion with 
God, and great love to the people, saints and poor 
sinners ;" and on Tuesday he " bid farewell to our 
loving and affectionate friends in Cincinnati," with a 
view to make an excursion into the country before the 
assembling of the conference, that no time might be 
lost in idleness or unnecessary recreation. 

The conference commenced on Thursday, Nov. 1, 
and it " progressed on well" during its sessions, and 
~they found an increase of four thousand for the past 
year. Bishop M'Kendree was present at this time, 
and on Sabbath preached to the conference and the 
people who assembled. 

Last year a new district was formed in the West- 
ern conference, called Indiana, and this year two new 
circuits, Cape Girrideau and Vincennes, were added 
to it, making in all six circuits, under the charge of 
Samuel Parker, whose labors in that part of the 
country were rendered a blessing to many. By this 
it will be seen that the work was slill spreading in 
the west, keeping pace with the growing population 
of the country, so that the ordinances of religion might 
be established simultaneously with their civil and do- 
mestic institutions. 


284 A HISTORY OF THE [1810 

Vincennes is the oldest town in the state, and was 
settled, as its name indicates, by the French, as early 
as 1690, at the time when that enterprising nation, 
to secure their American colonies from the depreda- 
tions of other nations, were stretching a line of mili- 
tary posts and small settlements from Quebec up the 
St. Lawrence, and along the shores of the lakes and 
rivers to New Orleans. But though thus early settled, 
its increase for a considerable time was exceedingly 
slow, exhibiting none of those marks of industry and 
rapid population which have more recently distinguish 
ed the rising counties and states of the west. It is stated 
indeed, that in 1800 the entire territory of Indiana 
contained only five thousand six hundred and forty- 
one inhabitants ; but in 1820, four years after it was 
admitted into the federal Union, it contained a popu- 
lation of one hundred and forty-seven thousand one 
hundred and seventy-eight ; and in 1810, the time of 
which we are speaking, there were twenty-four thou- 
sand five hundred and twenty inhabitants — quite a 
sufficient number to demand the exertions of a gospel 

The district over which Mr. Parker presided, in 
eluded a large tract of country comprehending por- 
tions of Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana ; and the two cir- 
cuits above named, namely, Cape Girrideau and Vin- 
cennes, were traveled, the first by Jesse Walker and 
the second by William Winans. They must have 
cultivated this rugged field with considerable success, 
for we find in the minutes of conference for the next 
year, for Cape Girrideau, one hundred, and Vincennes 
one hundred and twenty-five members, and for the 
entire district, one thousand and nine. 


We have mentioned that there was a great work 
of God in the city of New- York in the two preceding 
years; and perhaps from the time the Society was 
formed in this city, there had not been so general a 
revival as this. In the two years the increase of 
members amounted to not less than five hundred and 
ninety-seven, making in all, including white and 
colored, two thousand ; and a spirit of zeal seemed 
to characterize the entire body of Methodists in the 
city, so much so that in the year 1810 two new 
churches were built, one in Allen, and the other in 
Bedford-street, known then as Greenwich village ; 
and* the good work still progressed with encouraging 
success in most of -the churches. 

In other portions of the church there were pros- 
perous times, and generally great peace and harmony 
prevailed through all our borders. 

Locations, however, still continued to weaken the 
ministry, by depriving the Church of some of its more 
experienced ministers ; for not less than fifty-one desist- 
ed from traveling this year in the several annual con- 
ferences; twelve were returned supernumerary; ten su- 
perannuated, and two, Reuben Hubbard and Clement 
Hickman, withdrew, the first of whom joined the 
Protestant Episcopal Church, and, it is to be hoped, 
retained his usefulness. Moses Black, Joseph Everett, 
and John Wilson had died in the Lord. 

Joseph Everett was, in many respects, a remark- 
able man. He was a native of Queen Ann's county, 
Maryland, and was born June 17th, 1732. Edu- 
cated in the English Church, he was early biased in 
favor of her forms and ceremonies, though, as to the 
fundamental doctrines of the Church, or experimental 


286 A HISTORY OF THE [1810 

and practical religion, he was entirely indifferent, 
and so remained until the year 1763, when he was 
awakened and converted by the preaching of the "New- 
Lights," the followers of Mr. Whitefield. He accord- 
ingly became a member of the Presbyterian Church ; 
but having only few associates like-minded with nim- 
self, and drinking in the doctrine of unconditional pre- 
destination, he gradually lost his religious enjoyment, 
and finally became more vicious than ever. In this 
state he continued for many years, during which time 
he volunteered as a soldier in the militia of Maryland 
in defence of his country's rights in the time of the 
revolutionary war ; but in 1778, under the preaching 
of Mr. Asbury, he was aroused from his spiritual le- 
thargy, and induced to seek again for redemption in 
the blood of Christ. After many hard struggles with 
unbelief and a rebellious heart, he was restored to 
the favor of God, and by consulting the able and lu- 
minous writings of Wesley and Fletcher, he was led 
to a new view of the plan of redemption and the way 
of salvation by faith in Christ, and more especially to 
an enlarged and more comprehensive view of the 
divine goodness toward our fallen world. 

The result was, that he joined the Methodist 
Church, and in 1780 entered the traveling ministry. 

Here was a new field for the exercise of his talents 
— and it soon appeared that he was indeed anointed 
of God to preach the gospel. He was eminently dis- 
tinguished for the boldness, the pointedness, plain- 
ness, and energy with which he rebuked sin, and 
warned the sinner of his danger. And these search- 
ing appeals to the consciences of his hearers, made 
them tremble under ihe fearful apprehension of the 


wrath of God, and their high responsibility to him for 
their conduct. Great was the success which attend- 
ed his faithful admonitions ; for wherever he went he 
was like a flame of fire darting conviction into the 
understanding and conscience of the ungodly, and at 
the same time pointing the penitent to the blood of the 
Lamb for pardon and salvation. 

In this work he continued with untiring industry 
and indefatigable perseverance until, worn down with 
labor and toil, in 1804, he received a superannuated 
relation, but still bearing his pointed testimony for 
God as long as he was able to speak in his name, 
and manifesting to the last an unshaken confidence in 
God, and an unabated attachment to the doctrines and 
discipline of the church of his choice. 

He died at Dr. White's, in Dorchester county, 
Maryland, it being the house whence he set out 
on his itinerant life, and on the circuit which he 
first traveled, on the 16th day of October, 1809, in the 
seventy-eighth year of his age, and thirtieth of his 
ministry. His last end " was peace and assurance 
for ever." At about twelve o'clock of the night on 
which he died, he awoke from a gentle slumber, and 
immediately broke forth in praise, shouting glory to 
God ! In this exercise he continued for about twenty- 
five minutes, to the joy and astonishment of his 
friends, and then ceased to speak and breathe at once. 

The name of Joseph Everett deserves to be enroll- 
ed among the early veterans of the cross of Christ. 
He joined the ranks of Methodism in its infancy in 
this country, and contributed largely to fix it on that 
broad basis on which it has since stood unshaken amid 
the storms and billows with which it had to contend 


288 A HISTORY OF THE [1810. 

It would, indeed, seem that the Methodist preach- 
ers of those days were so imbued with the spirit of iheir 
Master, and so entirely absorbed in their peculiar 
work, that they thought of little else but saving souls 
from death. And so deeply penetrated were they 
with the " exceeding sinfulness of sin," that their re- 
bukes to the sinner were sometimes tremendously 
awful, and fearfully pointed and solemn. This was 
peculiarly so with Mr. Everett. His whole soul 
seemed to be thrown into his subject whenever he 
preached, and his warnings and entreaties were 
enough to melt the stoutest heart, while he wound the 
cord of truth so tightly around the sinner's conscience 
as to make him writhe and tremble under the wounds 
it inflicted. But he left him not here to welter in his 
blood. He presented to his troubled mind the " sin- 
atoning Victim," as a " balm for every wound," and 
as now ready, to " appoint to him the oil of joy for 
mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of 
heaviness." The rich promises of the gospel to peni- 
tent sinners dropped from his lips like honey descend- 
ing from the honey-comb, and when believingly 
received by such, he rejoiced over them as a father 
rejoices over a returning prodigal, while with the happy 
believer he participated in all the fulness of perfect 

John Wilson was an Englishman by birth, born in 
Poulten, Feb. 13, 1763, where he received, through 
the assiduity of his pious parents, a religious educa- 
tion, and in his youth became a member of the Me- 
thodist Society. In 1793 he emigrated to this coun- 
try. After settling in the city of New- York in 1795, 
he received a new baptism of the Holy Spirit, and 


was led on, step by step, from a class leader to a lo- 
cal preacher, until in 1797 he entered the traveling 
ministry, for which he was eminently fitted both by 
gifts and grace. He traveled and preached in a num- 
ber of circuits with much usefulness, greatly beloved 
by the people, until 1803, when his ministerial labors 
were much restricted by an attack of asthma, from 
which he never fully recovered. This laid the found- 
ation for his dissolution, on January 28th, 1810, in 
the forty-seventh year of his age, and thirteenth of 
his ministry. 

In 1804 he was elected by the General Confer- 
ence an assistant book agent, and in 1808 to the 
charge of the establishment. These offices he filled 
with great fidelity, for which he was well qualified by 
his previous habits and the course of his education. 
He was, indeed, a ready writer, an excellent account 
ant, of industrious and punctual habits, as well as of 
a sound judgment and courteous demeanor. He was 
also well skilled in his own, and in the Latin and Greek 
languages, and fully understood the various systems 
of theology with which the world abounds. 

In the midst, however, of the multifarious concerns 
of his agency, he never forgot his obligations as a 
minister of the sanctuary ; and if he excelled in any 
one branch of Christian doctrine more than another, it 
was in explaining and enforcing sanctification, or ho- 
liness of heart and life. This formed the theme of 
all his discourses, to promote which he made all the 
other truths of the gospel and all religious exercises 

And as this trait in the Christian system engaged 
much of his attention in his pulpit labors, so he was 

Vol. II. — 13. 

290 A HISTORY OF THE [1810. 

no less distinguished in his more private intercourse 
by the sweetness of his temper, the cheerfulness of 
his disposition, and the urbanity of his manners. 

Bishop Asbury once said to him, in the examina- 
tion of characters in the conference, " Brother Wil- 
son, I am afraid you are not as spiritual as you used 
to be." He replied, with a pleasant smile upon his 
countenance, and a little pertness of manner, " Indeed, 
sir, if you had heard me preach to the Africans last 
Sabbath, you would alter your opinion." He then, in 
most respectful terms, thanked the bishop for his re- 
proof, and promised to endeavor to profit by it. 

He was, indeed, an exceedingly pleasant companion, 
buoyant in his spirits, and though apt at illustration by 
anecdotes, sometimes of a facetious character, he 
always took care to make them rebuke some folly, 
correct a foible, or exemplify the spirit of piety and 
Christian zeal. 

In the several relations he held to the Church, he 
maintained the dignity of the minister of Jesus Christ, 
the humility and meekness of the Christian, and the 
strict integrity of the sound moralist. Hence those 
who held intercourse with him were always pleased 
with their reception, from the gentleness of his deport- 
ment, the blandness of his manner, and his scrupulous 
regard to justice, goodness, and truth, which were 
manifested in all his conduct. Hence he was as far 
removed from the hauteur of the spiritual despot as 
from the effeminacy of the wily sycophant. He was 
therefore at once beloved and respected by all who 
had the pleasure of his acquaintance. 

He died suddenly. Having prayed with his family 
in the evening of the 28th of January, he retired to 


rest, but awoke about five o'clock in the morning and 
found himself suffocating from the phlegm rising in 
his throat, which he was unable to discharge, and in a 
few minutes he ceased to breathe. His previous life 
declares more emphatically than words could express 
it, that his end was peace. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 139,836 34,724 174,560 636* 
Last year 131,154 31,884 163,038 597 

Increase 8,682 2,840 11,522 39 

* 1 8 1 1 . For several years past our country had been 
much agitated " with rumors of war," sometimes with 
France, at other times with Great Britain, and not un- 
frequently both assumed a belligerent attitude toward 
the people of America. This state of things had 
an unfavorable bearing upon the minds of religious 
people, as it led to frequent collisions on political 
subjects, on which the country was nearly equally di- 
vided. In the latter part of this year the note of pre- 
paration for hostile movements was sounded through 
the country, and Great Britain was selected as the 
chief object of warlike feeling. 

It is not the design of this history to enter into any 
detail of the causes which led to this state of feelino-, 
nor to discuss or give a judgment on the merits of the 
questions that were at issue, any further than they had 
a bearing upon the interests of pure religion. That 

* This enumeration includes the supernumerary and super- 
annuated preachers ; and as they properly belong to the confer- 
ences, they will be hereafter included in the number of 


292 A HISTORY OF THE [1811 

strong political feeling, more especially of a partisan 
character, which involves heated discussions and per- 
sonal recriminations, is unfriendly to the advancement 
of truth and righteousness, must be evident to all ac- 
quainted with human passions and the biases arising 
from long-cherished prejudices. And in a country 
where freedom of speech and of the press is allowed 
to all, these discussions often terminate in a settled 
hostility destructive of that peace and brotherly love 
which characterize holy and devoted Christians. 

Notwithstanding these strong symptoms began to 
show themselves in the country about this time, attend- 
ed with their usual concomitants, yet through the per- 
severing efforts of God's servants the work in which 
they were engaged was generally prosperous, and 
many were gathered into the fold of Christ. 

In the latter part of this year and beginning of 
1812, the south-western part of our country, particu- 
larly Missouri and Louisiana, was terribly shaken by 
earthquakes, by which the minds of the people were 
much alarmed, and it seemed to give a temporary 
check to the flood of emigration, which had been set- 
ting in that direction with such astonishing rapidity. 
They soon recovered, however, from the shock, and the 
streams of emigrants resumed their wonted course, 
and the march of improvement went gradually on. It 
led, in the mean time, many to serious reflection, and 
thus the workings of divine Providence in the physical 
world were overruled for the good of its inhabitants. 
While the earth was trembling and quaking beneath 
their feet, many were induced to call on God for mercy 
and salvation. 

It will have been perceived from the preceding 


pages of this history, that in the early plantation of 
Methodism, especially in the new countries, the peo- 
ple were compelled to hold their meetings in private 
houses, in barns, and often in groves. As, however, 
the societies increased in number, it became necessary 
to erect houses of worship. This work, so essential 
to the prosperity of the cause, at first, went on very 
slowly, particularly in the country places, and often 
some obscure site was selected, remote from the cen- 
tre of population, where an indifferent building was 
erected, thus sacrificing convenience to a paltry eco- 
nomy. This unwise policy began to be injuriously 
felt in some places, and means were used to counter- 
act it ; but it was with much difficulty that the people 
could be generally brought to appreciate the import- 
ance of attending to this thing with that liberality and 
energy which its necessity demanded. 

It would seem, indeed, that many of the members 
of our Church in some places had been accustomed 
to contribute so little for the support of the institu- 
tions of Christianity, that they apparently cherished the 
erroneous idea that they could be sustained almost 
literally " without money and without price." Hence 
the tardiness with which they came forward to build 
houses of worship, and the stinted manner in which 
they contributed for the support of the ministry and 
ordinances of religion. 

These evils, perhaps unavoidable in some cases, 
in the circumstances in which they were placed, no 
doubt prevented a more steady and rapid growth of 
the societies in many places, and furnished a plausible 
excuse for the numerous locations we have been com- 
pelled to record. 


294 A HISTORY OF THE [1811. 

Another defect, and which arose, in some measure, 
out of the ones just mentioned, was the neglecting to 
occupy the young and thriving villages which were 
rising into being by the hand of industry, in the new 
countries. In these countries the Methodist preach- 
ers were the gospel pioneers, and for many years, in 
various places, the people had no other preachers who 
" cared for their souls." They were accustomed to 
go among them in their lonely retreats, preach in their 
log huts, hold their quarterly meetings in barns or in 
the woods, and they seemed to have been so long ac- 
customed to this mode of preaching and living, that 
they almost forgot, in many instances, to provide 
themselves with better accommodations ; and before 
they were aware of it, other denominations came, 
took possession of the villages, erected houses of wor- 
ship, and thus drew the weightier part of population 
around them. How much has been lost to the Me- 
thodist Episcopal Church by this neglect, who can 
tell ? Latterly, however, a remedy has been, in some 
measure at. least, provided, though it has been, in 
too many instances, after the damage had been sus- 
tained, and we have profited more by our losses than 
by prudent foresight. 

Another inconvenience began to be sensibly felt, 
and that was the want of parsonages for the accom- 
modation of preachers' families. It is true that the 
General Conference of 1800, at the suggestion of Dr. 
Coke, had passed a resolution, recommending to the 
circuits to prepare convenient houses, and to have 
them furnished with heavy furniture. But, excepting 
some of the larger cities, this recommendation had 
been little heeded, and hence those preachers who had 


families were obliged either to locate or submit to the 
inconvenience of moving their families to circuits 
without having any place provided for them, or were 
compelled to purchase or hire a permanent residence 
for their famines, and then go wherever they might 
be sent, however distant from their residences. 
These evils began to press heavily upon the connec- 
tion, and it was plainly seen that, unless removed, 
must eventually very much impede, if not entirely 
stop, the wheels of the itinerancy. 

In the early days of Methodism, as most of the 
traveling preachers were unmarried, these embarrass- 
ments were not so sensibly realized ; and in most in- 
stances the zeal for God's house so entirely " eat up" 
the cares of this world, that those devoted men ot 
God seemed regardless of their fare, " counting all 
things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge 
of Christ Jesus ;" for the sake of winning souls to him 
they were willing to forego, not only the riches and 
honors of the world, but also all the endearments of 
domestic life. 

At this time the case was somewhat altered. Many 
had families, some of them large and growing. To move 
these from place to place, without having a house pre- 
pared to shelter them, was &n inconvenience, and more 
especially with the scanty allowance provided for 
their support, to which many thought themselves not 
called to submit. This, no doubt, was one cause of 
the numerous locations from one year to another. 
And though the embarrassments arising from this 
source are not yet wholly removed, yet the efforts 
which began to be put forth about this time, and 
which have been continued with various degrees of 


296 A HISTORY OF THE [1811. 

success, have supplied a partial remedy, and it is to 
be hoped that the efforts will not be slackened until 
every station and circuit shall have its parsonage, 
suitably furnished and comfortably supplied with the 
necessaries of life. 

But with all these disadvantages, many parts of the 
country were visited with outpourings of the Spirit of 
God, so that the work steadily advanced both in the 
Atlantic and in the northern and western states. 

This year Bishop Asbury crossed the St. Lawrence 
into Upper Canada. After attending the New-Eng- 
land conference, which assembled this year in Bar- 
nard, in the state of Vermont, he took his departure 
on his intended tour into Upper Canada, a place he 
had long desired to visit. On Wednesday, June 26th, 
he crossed the Green Mountains, visited Middlebury, 
and preached in the court house, and afterward set 
forward a subscription paper for building a house of 
worship in that place, fully believing, as he said, that 
"the Lord would visit Middlebury." He then passed 
on through Vergennes, Charlotte, and Plattsburgh, in 
each of which places he stopped and preached, until 
he arrived, after a fatiguing journey through the woods 
and swampy roads, at the Indian village of St.. Regis, 
situated at the mouth of the river of that name, which 
empties into the St. Lawrence river. At this place 
he was ferried across the St. Lawrence, which is here 
nearly three miles in width. The first place he stopped 
at was Evan Roy's in the town of Cornwall, where 
there was a flourishing Methodist Society, one of the 
oldest in the province. 

On landing in Canada, he says, " My strong affec- 
tion for the people of the United States came with 


strange power upon me when I was crossing trie line," 
and he inquires, with much apparent feeling, " Why- 
should I have such new feelings in Canada ?" No 
doubt that associations were called tip by this visit 
which he little expected to realize in this world. He 
had left his native land in his youth — had struggled 
through the difficulties of the revolutionary war — a 
war which eventuated in the severance of the United 
Slates from the land of his birth — had lived to see 
these states rising and flourishing, and the Church 
whose affairs he had been called to superintend, num- 
bering within its bosom six hundred and thirty-six 
traveling preachers, and 174,560 members — and 
now, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, and fortieth of 
his ministry in this country, he found himself once 
more under the shadow of his paternal government, in a 
distant province of the empire, among a people who 
had been raised up by his sons in the gospel, profess- 
ing the same faith and adopting the same modes of 
worship with those with whom he first united himself 
in the mother country. Amid such reflections, how 
could it be otherwise than that " strange feelings 
should come over" him ? And more especially as he 
must then have anticipated the near approach of ano 
ther war between the United States and that govern- 
ment from which he had expatriated himself for the 
sake of building up His kingdom whose government 
shall have no end. 

The bishop passed along up the banks of the St 
Lawrence, stopping and preaching in the most consi- 
derable places, gathering information from his own 
observation and the communications of others respect- 
ing the state of things in Canada, until he arrived at 

13* 2 

298 A HISTORY OF THE [1811, 

Kingston, where he preached in a new chapel the 
people had erected in that place. He says : — " Our 
ride has brought us through one of the finest coun- 
tries I have ever seen. The timber is of a noble 
size ; the cattle are well shaped and well looking ; the 
crops are abundant, on a most fruitful soil. Surely, 
this is a land that God the Lord hath blessed." And 
of the people he says : — " My soul is much united to 

On Monday July 15th, he left Kingston, and cross- 
ed the lake in an open boat, in which he says they 
" had a tremendous passage," to Sacketts Harbor. 
After his arrival, he remarks : — " Well, I have been 
to Canada, and find it like all other stations in the 
extremities — there are difficulties to overcome, and 
prospects to cheer us. Some of our laborers have 
not been so faithful and diligent as we could wish." 
On meeting with his colleague in the episcopacy, he 
says : — " My spirit rejoiced on meeting with dear 
Bishop M'Kendree" — and they jointly attended the 
Genesee Conference, which assembled on the 20th of 
July at Paris, Oneida county, in the state of New-York. 

From this conference the bishops shaped their course 
through the western parts of New-York and Pennsyl- 
vania, to Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and thence 
through the southern states ; preaching to the people, 
and attending the conferences as usual. Speaking of 
the South Carolina Conference, Bishop Asbury re- 
marks : — " Scarcely have I seen such harmony and 
love." — "I received letters from the extremities, and 
the centre of our vast continent, all pleasing, all encou- 

During this long and tedious journey, the bishop 


speaks of suffering much from bodily affliction, some- 
times to that degree, from an obstinate inflammation 
in his foot, that he could scarcely walk, and at other 
times he was obliged to desist from active labor alto- 
gether, not being able either to ride or preach. In 
these seasons, however, he employed himself in read- 
ing, prayer, and meditation, and in answering the nu- 
merous letters he was almost daily receiving from 
the presiding elders and others ; for it may be ob- 
served that it was one part of the duty of a presiding 
elder to give information to the bishops, once a year 
at least, of the state of religion in his district. This, 
together with other correspondence, imposed no small 
tax upon the time and labor of the bishop to an- 
swer, as he was in the habit of doing, all these 
letters. But in the midst of all these things, he 
says : — " I limped about, sung, talked, and prayed." — 
" My consolations exceedingly abound, though my suf- 
ferings are great." — " Dr. Coke says fifteen hundred 
miles in nine weeks — I may say sixteen hundred 
miles in sixty days." Such were episcopal labors in 
those days ! 

These extensive travels were less or more the 
practice of most of the preachers in the new coun- 
tries, with only this difference, that these latter were 
performing their regular round of duties in a circuit 
from two to four hundred miles in circumference, 
once in four weeks. As late as 1810, according to 
the testimony of a writer in the Pittsburgh Conference 
Journal, in the Monongahela district, then under the 
charge of Rev. Joshua Monroe, there were eleven cir- 
cuits, comprehending all the country from lake Erie 

southward, to the head of Tyger's Valley, and from 


300 A HISTORY OF THE [1811. 

the summit of the Alleghany mountains to the Ohio 
river, including a portion of western Virginia, the 
whole of western Pennsylvania, and a considerable 
portion of the north-east corner of the state of Ohio. 
At that time Pittsburgh was in a circuit which em- 
braced Greensburgh, Somerset, and Connellsville, in 
which there were four hundred and twenty-eight mem- 
bers of the Church. In Pittsburgh itself, in which 
there are now two large churches, with a member- 
ship of about one thousand three hundred, the Me- 
thodists assembled at that time in a private room pre- 
pared for that purpose, and had only about forty 
church members, and some of even these were from 
the adjacent country In Meadville, (where we now 
have a college and a stationed preacher,) in Erie, Mer- 
cer, and Franklin, all which were then included in Erie 
circuit, there were no societies. 

This year, 1811, Erie circuit, employed two preach- 
ers, James Watts and James Ewen, and the number 
of church members had increased to five hundred and 
one, scattered over an extent of country which now 
includes several presiding elders' districts. 

The Pittsburgh circuit, which was this year under 
the charge of James M. Hanson, numbered five hun- 
dred and twenty-four members, though the Society in 
the city was still small. Within the limits of these 
two circuits, there is now a large portion of two an- 
nual conferences, five entire districts, besides parts 
of some others, and not less than twenty-two thousand 
members of the Church. So greatly has the work 
enlarged in that field which was brought under cul- 
ture by those men of God. It has since been divided 
and subdivided into smaller and more compact enclo- 


sures, and put under the care of a proportionate num- 
ber of husbandmen, that it might bring forth fruit 
more abundantly, and that its fruit may remain. 

Forty-five preachers located this year, nineteen 
were returned supernumerary, fifteen superannuated, 
and two expelled. Five, namely, Thomas Daughaday, 
Thomas Budd, William Keith, William Hunt, and 
Gideon A. Knowlton, ended their labors in peace, 
leaving behind them many testimonials to their fidelity 
and success in the "ministry of reconciliation." 

One trait in the character of William Keith, men- 
tioned in the notice of his death, is worthy of remem- 
brance and of imitation — that is, " clearness of con- 
ception, readiness of utterance, and comprehensiveness 
of argument. It has often been remarked that he 
possessed the happy art of expressing much useful 
matter in a few well-chosen words." It is added, " The 
happy, and sometimes astonishing effects of his minis- 
try, demonstrated that he was sent by Jesus Christ to 
declare unto mankind the awful truths of Heaven, and 
to beseech sinners to be reconciled to God." 

There was indeed a sweetness of mariner, a per- 
suasiveness of argument, which accompanied the pub- 
lic administrations of William Keith, that wrought upon 
the heart of the auditor, attracted his attention, and won 
his affection, in a manner which he could hardly re- 
sist. His intelligent countenance, the melody of his 
voice, the harmony of his sentences, and above all, 
the apparent sincerity with which he spoke, command- 
ed the respect and inspired the confidence of all who 
were not prejudiced against the truth ; and even many 
of these, on hearing him, have been overcome by the 
charming and persuasive eloquence with which he 


302 A HISTORY OF THE [1811. 

addressed them. He was, as was most evident, deeply 
imbued with the spirit of his Master, and this gave an 
unction and a pungency to all he said. 

In the early part of his ministry he was employed 
chiefly in western New-York ; and for some cause, 
unknown to the writer, he was induced to leave the Me- 
thodist Church and connect himself with another com- 
munion. He very soon, however, repented of his error, 
published a recantation, and was most cordially read- 
mitted into the bosom of the church of his first love. 
He could hardly ever forgive himself this step, but 
adverted to it upon his dying bed as a source of grief 
to his mind. 

The two last years of his ministry he spent in 
New-York, and the people appreciated his labors 
highly as a faithful and useful minister of Jesus 
Christ. Here also he ended his days with a linger- 
ing consumption, beloved and respected by all who 
knew him, leaving a testimony behind him more sa- 
tisfactory than all the gold of Ophir — for he departed 
in the full hope of immortality and eternal life. 

Of William Hunt, it is said that he professed to 
enjoy, and exemplified the grace of " perfect love" — 
that few excelled him in the branches of learning 
which he pursued — that he was thoroughly versed in 
the sacred Scriptures — sound in doctrine, and an ac- 
curate judge of gospel order and discipline, illustrat- 
ing in his own life the purity and excellence of that 
religion which he recommended to others. 

In addition to his exhibiting the graces of a Chris- 
tian minister, it is said of Gideon A. Knowlton that he 
was so remarkably distinguished for his punctuality 
in attending to his appointments, that it became pro- 


verbial among the people in stormy weather, " It is 
Knowlton's appointment ; he will be there ; we must 
attend." How worthy of imitation ! 

Of Thomas Budd, it is said that he possessed 
strong natural abilities, had an improved mind, was 
remarkably frank in his manner, and of the strictest 
integrity in all his conduct. 

Thomas Daughaday wus an acceptable and useful 
preacher, manifesting an ardent thirst for the salva- 
tion of souls, and was an example of meekness and 
patience in his life, and departed full of the hope of 

Numbers in the Church. 

This year 
Last year 

Whites. Colored. 

148.835 35,732 

139.836 34,724 

8,999 1,008 









The first Delegated General Conference of 1812. 

We have traced the progress of Methodism from 
its origin to the present period. We have seen it 
beginning in a small class consisting of only five mem- 
bers in the city of New-York, and under the auspices 
of divine providence and grace, growing up to a con- 
siderable society, and chiefly by the instrumentality 
of a local preacher who had little to recommend him 
to public favor but the sincerity of his zeal, the 


304 A HISTORV OF THE [1812 

fervor of his piety, and the influence he derived from 
his connection with such a man as John Wesley ; and 
thence breaking out, under the labors of Boardman 
and Pilmoor, and the more energetic exertions of As- 
bury, into circuits and quarterly meeting conferences ; 
until, in imitation of the practice which had obtained 
in Europe, a regular conference was convened in 
Philadelphia under the superintendence of Rankin. 
As it continued to enlarge its dimensions by means 
of the labors of these men, their coadjutors, and sue 
cessors, this conference became divided and subdi- 
vided into several others, until it was found expedient 
to concentrate the councils of the church in one Gene- 
ral Conference, composed of all the traveling elders 
who might be disposed to attend. 

As, however, the work continued to expand in 
every direction until it became co-extensive with the 
settlements which were spread over this large coun- 
try, comprehending the cities and villages, the denser 
population of the older and the sparser settlements of 
the new states and territories, to prevent a useless 
expenditure of time, labor, and money, as well as to 
secure greater harmony in counsel and despatch of 
business, it was found necessary to lessen the number 
who should compose this General Conference, by se- 
lecting a specific number from among the elders of 
each annual conference. To bring all the traveling 
elders together, scattered as they were among the 
circuits and stations from Maine to Louisiana, and 
thence along the waters of the Mississippi, Mis- 
souri, and Ohio, and their tributary streams ; the shores 
of lakes Erie and Ontario and the banks of the St 
Lawrence to Montreal and Quebec, would be involv- 


ing an expense of time and money which neither 
preachers nor people were able to bear, or if able, 
they could give no reasonable account for such a 
waste of expenditure. On the other hand, if those 
in the extreme parts of the work were deterred from 
attending the General Conference, on account of the 
difficulties arising from distance or poverty, or from 
the hazards to the souls of the people by such a long 
absence from their charge, then the affairs of the 
Church would be left in the hands of some of the 
most central of the annual conferences, who might 
not understand the circumstances and wants of their 
brethren in the exterior parts of the work. Every 
consideration, therefore, of justice and expediency, 
dictated the policy of the measure which, in 1808, 
provided for a delegated General Conference. 

This conference assembled in the city of New- 
York, on the first day of May, 1812. And as this 
is the first delegated General Conference, the reader 
will doubtless be pleased to have the names of the 
delegates, which are here given as they stand on the 
Journal of the conference. They are as follows : — 

New -York Conference. 
Freeborn Garretlson, Laban Clark, 

Daniel Ostrander, Truman Bishop, 

Aaron Hunt, Eben Smith, 

William Phoebus, Henry Stead, 

William Anson, Billy Hibbard, 

Nathan Bangs, Seth Crowell, 

Samuel Merwin. 
Neio-England Conference. 
George Pickering, Elijah Hedding, 

Oliver Beale, Joshua Soule, 


306 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

William Stephens, Solomon Sias, 

Asa Kent, Joel Winch, 

Daniel Webb. 

Genesee Conference. 
William B. Lacy, James Kelsey, 

Anning Owen, Elijah Batchelor, 

Timothy Lee, William Snow. 

Western Conference. 
Lawner Blackman, Isaac Quinn, 

Benjamin Lakin, William Houston, 

James Quinn, John Collins, 

Frederick Stier, Samuel Parker, 

John Sale, James Axley, 

William Pattison, David Young, 

Thomas Stillwell. 
South Carolina Conference. 
Lewis Myers, William M. Kennedy, 

Lovick Pierce, Samuel Dunwody, 

Joseph Tarpley, James E. Glenn, 

Daniel Asbury, Hilliard Judge, 

Joseph Travis. 

Virginia Conference. 
Jesse Lee, James M. Boyd, 

Philip Bruce, Richard Lattimore, 

John Buxton, Charles Callaway, 

Thomas L. Douglass, Cannellum H. Hines, 
John Ballew, William Jean, 

John Early. 

Baltimore Conference. 
Nelson Reed, Asa Shin, 

Joseph Toy, Hamilton Jefferson, 

Joshua Wells, Jacob Gruber, 

Nicholas Snethen, Robert R Roberts, 

Enoch George, William Ryland, 



Christopher Frye, Robert Burch, 

James Smith, Henry Smith, 

Andrew Hemphill. 
Philadelphia Conference. 
Ezekiel Cooper, David Bartine, 

John M'Claskey, John Walker, 

Tho. F. Sargent, George Woolley, 

Stephen G. Roszel, James Bateman, 

Thomas Ware, Thomas Burch, 

Richard Sneath, Michael Coate, 

Thomas Boring, Asa Smith. 

Bishops Asbury and M'Kendree were present, and 
the conference was opened by the former, by reading 
a portion of the Holy Scriptures and prayer ; after 
which the names of the delegates were called by a tem- 
porary secretary, and they presented the certificates 
of their election by the several annual conferences. 
This being finished, Daniel Hitt, the book agent, not 
being one of the delegates, was elected secretary. 

This being a delegated conference, acting under 
the restrictions imposed upon it by the body by 
which it was constituted, it was found necessary to 
frame a set of new rules to guide the members in 
their deliberations and decisions. A committee was 
accordingly appointed for the purpose of preparing 
rules, and a long time was spent in discussing and 
adopting them, and after they were adopted, being an 
abridgment of the congressional rules found in Jeffer- 
son's Manual, they were to the conference something 
like Saul's armor to David : they did not like them ; 
and they have long since been laid aside as not only 
useless but perplexing. Men of plain common sense, 
acting with a simple desire to accomplish the greatest 

308 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

good by the use of the best means, need but a few 
plain and simple rules, easily understood, to guide 
them in their action. 

After the adoption of the rules, and the transaction 
of some other preliminary business, a letter (a copy 
of which I have not been able to find) from Dr. Coke 
was read to the conference, expressive of his deter- 
mination to visit the East Indies on a grand mission- 
ary enterprise, and of his unabated attachment to his 
American brethren.* After this, Bishop M'Kendree 
presented the conference with the following address, 
which was the first time that either of the presidents 
submitted his views to the conference in writing : — 

" To the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, now assembled in the city of New -York. 

" Dear Brethren : — My relation to you, and the con- 
nection in general, seems, in my opinion, to make it neces- 
sary that I should address you in some way, by which you 
may get possession of some information, perhaps not other- 
wise to be obtained by many of you. 

" It is now four years since, by your appointment, it be- 
came my duty jointly to superintend our extensive and 
very important charge. With anxious solicitude, and good 
wishes, I have looked forward to this General Conference. 
The appointed time is come, and the Lord has graciously 
permitted us to meet according to appointment, for which 
I hope we are prepared jointly to praise and adore his 

* As I speak from memory only, I may have mistaken the 
contents of this letter, but think I am correct. The letter, I 
believe, was addressed to Bishop Asbury, which, doubtless, is 
the reason why it is not found among the documents of the 


" Upon examination, you will find the work of the Lord 
is prospering in our hands. Our important charge has 
greatly increased since the last General Conference : we 
have had an increase of nearly forty thousand members. 
At present, we have about one hundred and ninety thou- 
sand members, upward of two thousand local, and about 
seven hundred traveling preachers, in our connection, and 
these widely scattered over seventeen states, besides the 
Canadas and several of the territorial settlements. 

" Thus situated, it must be expected, in the present state 
of things, that the counsel and direction of your united 
wisdom will be, necessary to preserve the harmony and 
peace of the body, as well as co-operation of the traveling 
and local ministry, in carrying on- the blessed work of 
reformation which the Lord has been pleased to effect, 
through our instrumentality. To deserve the confidence 
of the local ministry and membership, as well as to retain 
confidence in ourselves, and in each other, is undoubtedly 
our duty ; and if we consider that those who are to con- 
fide in us are a collection from all classes and descriptions 
from all countries of which the nation is composed, pro- 
miscuously scattered over this vast continent, men who 
were originally of different educations, manners, habits, 
and opinions, we shall see the difficulty as well as the im- 
portance of this part of our charge. 

" In order to enjoy the comforts of peace and union 
among us, we must ' love one another ;' but this cannot 
abide where confidence does not exist ; and purity of in- 
tention, manifested by proper actions, is the very founda- 
tion and support of confidence ; thus, ' united, we stand ;' 
each member is a support to the body, and the body sup- 
ports each member ; but if confidence fails, love will grow 
cold, peace will be broken, and ' divided, we fall.' It there- 
fore becomes this body, which, by its example, is to move 
the passions and direct the course of thousands of minis- 


310 A HISTORY OF THE [1812' 

ters, and te*ns of thousands of members, to pay strict atten- 
tion to the simplicity of gospel manners, and to do every 
thing as in the immediate presence of God. If we con- 
sider the nature of our business, and the influence of civil 
governments, and political measures, it will hardly be ex- 
pected that every individual in so large a body as you 
form will continually be sufficiently and strictly evangel- 
ical in all cases ; it is therefore hoped in cases of failure, 
that the wisdom and firmness of your united prudence as 
a body will counteract evil effects by a well-ordered and 
prudent disapprobation and better example. Church and 
state should never be assimilated. 

" Connected as I am with you, and the connection in 
general, I feel it a part of my duty to submit to your con- 
sideration the appointment of the Genesee Conference ; 
and perhaps it may be for the general good, if, in your 
wisdom you should think proper to take into consideration 
a division of the work in the western country, and a proper 
arrangement of the work in general ; and the magnitude 
and extent of the work which the Lord has graciously 
pleased to prosper in our hands, may make it proper for 
you to inquire if the work is sufficiently within the over- 
sight of the superintendency, and to make such arrange- 
ments and provision as your wisdom may approve. I 
would also suggest the necessity of keeping in view, 
not only the traveling, but the relation and situation of our 
local brethren ; and to pursue that plan which may render 
the whole the most useful ; and it may also be proper to 
bring into view any unfinished business (if any) which we 
had under consideration at our last General Conference. 
Hitherto, as a body, we have been preserved, by our well- 
digested system of rules, which are as sinews to the body, 
and form the bonds of our union. But it is evident, both 
from Scripture and experience, that men, even good men, 
may depart from first principles and the best of rules ; it 


may therefore be proper for you to pay some attention to 
the administration, to know the state both of the traveling 
and local ministry, as it relates to doctrine, discipline, and 

" Before I conclude, permit me, my dear brethren, to 
express a few thoughts concerning the view I have of the 
relation in which I stand connected with this body. It is 
only by virtue of a delegated power from the General Con- 
ference, that I hold the reins of government. I consider 
myself bound by virtue of the same authority to exercise 
discipline in perfect conformity to the rules of the Church, 
to the best of my ability and judgment. I consider my- 
self justly accountable, not for the system of government, 
but for my administration, and ought therefore to be ready 
to answer in General Conference for past conduct, and be 
willing to receive information and advice, to perfect future 
operations : and I wish my brethren to feel themselves 
perfectly easy and at liberty. 

" I shall take the liberty here to present my grateful 
acknowledgments for the high degree of confidence which 
my beloved brethren have placed in me, and especially for 
the able counsel and seasonable support afforded by many, 
which has, I believe, with the divine aid, preserved and 
supported me. Dear brethren, such are the effects of our 
high responsibility, connected with a consciousness of the 
insufficiency of my talents for so great a work, that I move 
with trembling. Your eyes and the eyes of the Lord are 
upon me for good. We shall rejoice together to see the 
armies of Israel wisely conducted in all their ranks, carry- 
ing the triumphs of the Redeemer's kingdom to the ends 
of the earth ; and the Lord will rejoice to make his min- 
isters a flame of fire. In you I have confidence, and on 
you I depend for aid, and above all, I trust in divine aid. 
Influenced by these considerations, and with my situation 
in full view, I cannot entertain a thought of bearing such 

312 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

awful accountability longer than I am persuaded my ser- 
vices are useful to the Church of God, and feel a confi- 
dence of being aided by your counsel and support, which 
is with you to give in any way or form you judge proper. 
And while I join with you, my dear brethren, in pure gos- 
pel simplicity, to commit and recommend ourselves and 
our several charges to the special care of the great Head 
of the Church, I remain, with sentiments of love and con- 
fidence, your servant in the gospel of Christ; 

" Wm. M'Kendree. 
" New-York, May 5th, 1812." , 

This address was referred to appropriate commit- 
tees, after which Bishop Asbury, addressing himself 
extemporaneously to Bishop M'Kendree, and through 
him to the conference, gave a historical sketch of 
the rise and progress of Methodism in this country, 
its present state and prospects, and concluded by 
urging upon the General Conference the expediency 
of increasing the number of annual conferences for 
the convenience of the preachers, and as a measure 
of economy to the whole Church ; and the committees 
were instructed to take these matters into considera- 
tion, in connection with the several portions of Bishop 
M'Kendree's address. 

After a full interchange of thoughts in reference to 
adding one more to the number of bishops, as recom- 
mended by Bishop M'Kendree, as it was understood 
he intended by the question " whether the work is suf- 
ficiently within the oversight of the superintendency," 
the committee reported that they " did not see their 
way clear to recommend any alteration or additions," 
which was concurred in by the conference. 

Bishop Asbury had, previous to the session of this 


conference, expressed a desire once more to visit his 
native land, from which he had now been absent about 
forty-one years ; and in his communication to the con- 
ference he requested them to give him their advice 
on the propriety of his doing it soon after the ad- 
journment of conference. The committee on the 
episcopacy, having reported against increasing the 
number of bishops, say in reference to this subject: — 
" It is our sincere desire and request, that Bishop As- 
bury would relinquish his thoughts of visiting Europe, 
and confine his labors to the American connection so 
long as God may preserve his life." In this the confer- 
ence fully concurred, and the bishop cheerfully relin- 
quished his design. 

In regard to creating the Genesee conference, re- 
specting which some had demurred on account of the 
illegality of the measure, as they alleged, the confer- 
ence voted in its favor, and thus justified the bishops 
In what they had done in the premises. 

In respect to the division of the work in the 
western country, which was earnestly recommend- 
ed by both the bishops, the conference consented to 
divide the Western conference into two, to be called 
the Ohio and Tennessee conferences ; the former to 
comprehend the Salt river, Kentucky, Miami, and 
Muskingum districts ; the latter, the Holston, Nash- 
ville, Cumberland, Wabash, and Illinois districts ; and 
then gave authority to the bishops, in the interval of 
the General Conference, if they should find it neces- 
sary, to establish another conference down the Missis- 
sippi, provided that no circuit or district shall be in- 
corporated in such conference, without its consent — - 
a precaution that marks the jealousy with which the 

Vol. II.— 14. 

314 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

General Conference guarded the rights of annual 
conferences, against what they considered the en- 
croachments of episcopal prerogative — and also a 
disposition, frequently exemplified before, to compre- 
hend as large a territory as possible within the bounds 
of each annual conference, however- inconvenient it 
might be to preachers and people — a mistaken policy, 
it is believed, which has been since gradually rectified. 

The most important act of this General Conference 
was the making local deacons eligible to the office of 
elders. This measure elicited a very strong debate, 
in which the talent of the most able members was 
brought into requisition, both for and against it. Those 
who were in favor of the measure, contended that the 
services of such were needed in the various parts of 
the work, where the number of traveling elders were 
few, to administer the ordinances of baptism and the 
Lord's Supper, and to perform the ceremony of mar- 
riage and burial of the dead ; — that being recognized 
by our church as ministers of the gospel, they were 
also entitled, equally with their traveling brethren, to 
full powers as elders in the Church of God ; — and, as 
conferring them would add dignity and importance to 
their character, it would also increase their useful- 
ness, and consequently attach them more strongly to 
their traveling brethren. 

To this it was answered that the ordination service 
implied a covenant transaction, in which the person 
receiving orders took upon himself the charge of the 
flock of Christ, which a local elder in our Church 
could not do, and therefore could not fulfil his cove- 
nant obligations, inasmuch as he did not, nor could he 
as a mere local minister, devote himself exclusively 


to the work of the ministry ; — that as to the right he 
had to full orders, we must distinguish between origi- 
nal, unalienable, and acquired rights, between civil, 
political, and ecclesiastical rights. As to original or 
natural right, no one pretended that a local or any 
other preacher had it; — as to-acquired, according to 
the economy of our Church he could not acquire it, 
because nd such provision had been made as the re- 
ward of services, however meritorious, this being re- 
served for traveling preachers alone, who sacrificed 
their all of temporal emolument and devoted them- 
selves entirely to the service of the Church ; — as to 
civil or political right, he could claim none, as the 
civil polity of our country did not interfere in reli- 
gious matters at all ; — and therefore it only remained 
to inquire whether our local deacons had an ecclesi- 
astical right to the order of elders ; and this was the 
very question at issue, and therefore they could have 
none until it be given to them by the Church to which 
they belong. The question then must be decided, it 
was contended, on the principles of expediency and 
the probable utility of the measure ; and the majority 
finally decided that the privilege ought to be granted 
them on this ground — they might be needed, and 
might therefore be useful. 

Having thus decided in favor of granting them 
elders' orders, the following regulations were adopted 
as the conditions on which the bishops were permitted 
to confer them, which show plainly that this privilege 
was granted solely on the presumption that in every 
case where ordinations of this character were allowed, 
there was an imperious call for the services of such 
elders, and not because ihey could claim them as a 

3J 6 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

right originating from their relation to the Church 
The regulations were as follows : — 

" A local deacon shall be eligible to the office of an el- 
der, and on the following regulations and restrictions, 
viz., he shall have preached four years from the time he 
was ordained a deacon ; and shall obtain a recommenda- 
tion of two-thirds from the quarterly conference of which 
he is a member, signed by the president and countersign- 
ed by the secretary, certifying his qualifications in doc- 
trine, discipline, talents, and usefulness ; and the neces- 
sity of the official services of such local elder in the cir- 
cuit where he resides. He shall, if he cannot be present, 
send to the annual conference a note certifying his belief 
in the doctrine and discipline of our Church : the whole 
being examined and approved by the annual conference, 
he shall be ordained. Provided that no slaveholder shall 
be eligible to the office of local elder, in any state or ter- 
ritory where the civil laws will admit emancipation, and 
suffer the liberated slave to enjoy his freedom." 

The following item was added to the section re 
specting the settlement of disputes which might arise 
among brethren in the Church : — 

" Whenever a complaint is made against any member of 
our church for the nonpayment of debt : when the accounts 
are adjusted, and the amount properly ascertained, the 
preacher having the charge shall call the debtor before a 
committee of at least three, to say why he does not make 
payment ; and if further time is requested, the committee 
shall determine whether it ought to be granted, and what 
security, or if any, should be given, to secure the payment ; 
and in case the debtor should refuse to comply, he shall 
be expelled : but in such case shall have the privilege of 
appealing to the quarterly meeting conference, who shall 


decide on the case, and their decision shall be final. And 
in case the creditor shall complain that justice is not done 
him, he shall have the privilege of laying his grievance 
before the quarterly-meeting conference, who shall decide 
on the case, and the decision shall be final ; and in case 
the creditor refuse to comply, he shall be expelled." 

The necessity of publishing a periodical work was 
strongly urged upon this conference by some of its 
leading members, and strenuously opposed by others. 
The subject was referred to the consideration of the 
committee on the Book Concern, and they finally re- 
commended, and the conference concurred, " That 
the book agents be directed to resume the publication 
of the Methodist Magazine, two volumes having been 
published" (namely, in 1789 and 1790) "to com- 
mence publishing the third volume at farthest by Jan- 
uary next." And with a view to secure this object, 
an additional agent was appointed, Daniel Hitt being 
re-elected the principal, and Thomas Ware the as- 
sistant agent. The mandate of the conference, how- 
ever, was never obeyed, and unhappily for the litera- 
ture and character of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
we had no Magazine, nor scarcely any publication of 
American growth, until 1818, when the Methodist 
Magazine was recommenced. 

This is the more to be regretted, because it occa- 
sions a dearth of materials for such a history of this 
period as is most desirable, and which is now most 
painfully felt. For though some numbers of the Ma- 
gazine abound in rich material for history, espe- 
cially those sketches furnished by Theophilus Armi- 
nius and some others, to which I have been much 
indebted for many facts and graphic descriptions of 


318 A HISTORY Of THE (1812. 

Methodism in the west, yet these and others of a 
similar character generally terminate about the year 
1812, and we in vain look for anything satisfactory 
out of the ordinary records of the Church, from that 
time to about the year 1820. This period, therefore, 
quite contrary to my expectations when I commenced 
writing, seems to be the most barren of interesting 
incidents and those historical details which are essen- 
tial to render history engaging and edifying, of any 
period of our Church. 

During a number of years, it appears that educa 
tion of all sorts, as well as writing for the public eye, 
was laid aside as useless, and we seem to have come 
to the strange conclusion that we had nought else to 
do but simply to preach the gospel, and attend to 
those other duties connected with the pastoral office, 
in order to insure the blessing of God on our labors ; 
hence the Magazine had been discontinued for more 
than twenty years, and scarcely anything issued from 
our press except what was imported from Europe, 
and much of this, even, was brought before the pub- 
lic through other mediums.* Here and there a small 

* It is true we had a book-room, and the books which had 
been issued from it from time to time had done much good ; 
but to show the meager state of this concern about this time, 
I will append a list of all the variety of books which were on 
sale or issued from our press, as I find it in Crowther's Por- 
traiture of Methodism in 1813, together with the price of each 
volume : — 

" Coke's Commentary on New Testament, - $20 00f 

Wesley's Notes on do. - - 3 00 

Wesley's Sermons, 9 vols., - - - 6 50 

Wood's Dictionary, 2 do. - - - 5 00 

t This was imported from Europe, though afterward ro 
published in this country. 


pamphlet made its appearance, but only to disappear 
generally before it had time to breathe the breath of 
life ; for it seemed to be taken for granted that Ame- 
rican Methodists were doomed to that state of non- 
age which unfitted them to instruct one another 
through the medium of the press. 

It is true that a few sighed over this state of things 
in secret, and sometimes vented their feelings to each 
other, in accents of sorrow and regret, but they almost 
despaired of obtaining redress. It was this feeling 
which prompted them to bring this subject before the 
General Conference in 1812; but though they suc- 

Fletcher's Checks, 6 vols., - - - $5 00 

Benson's Life of Fletcher, - - - 100 

Portraiture of Methodism, - - - - 1 00 

Experience of several eminent Methodist preachers, 
2 vols., $1 each, - 

The Saints' Everlasting Rest, 

Methodist Hymns, 2 vols, bound together, 

Law's Serious Call to a Holy Life, 

Experience and Letters of Hester A. Rogers, 

Fletcher's Appeal, - 

Abbott's Life, - 

Alieine's Alarm and Baxter's Call, 

Family Adviser and Primitive Physic, 

Methodist Discipline, - 

Extract from John Nelson's Journal, - 

Watters' Life, - 

Confessions of James Lackington, 

Truth Vindicated, - 

Thomas a Kempis, - 

Mrs. - Rowe's Devout Exercises, abridged, 

A Scriptural Catechism, - 

And in this list, the whole of which — that is, a copy of each 
volume — independently of Coke's Commentary, which was im- 
ported — might be purchased for $29 75, there are but three 
American publications, namely, Abbotts' and Watters' Life, and 
he Scriptural Catechism. Nor was it possible, under the 







87 J- 














37 1 















320 A HISTORY OF THE [1812 

ceeded in getting a bare majority so far to second their 
views as to order the resumption of the Methodist 
Magazine, yet such was the general apathy on this 
subject, that the agents either refused to obey the 
order of the conference, or could not obtain sufficient 
encouragement to justify them in the enterprise ; and 
either alternative proves a lamentable state of things 
in regard to literature and science among us at that 

One consequence resulting from this inertness in 
reference to periodical literature and other branches 
of mental improvement, was, that when assailed by 
our adversaries — and this was not unfrequentlv the 
case — we had no adequate means of defence; and 
hence the reading public were left to draw their infer- 
ences respecting Methodist doctrine and economy 
from the distorted representations of those who felt it 
a duty to caricature or present us in a false position. 
These things were irksome, yet they were unavoida- 
ble under the circumstances. 

From these humiliating facts it became proverbial 
that the " Methodists were enemies to learning," and 
it must be confessed that there was too much reason 

circumstances — for to our certain knowledge several attempts 
were made — to increase the variety; such was the low slate 
of feeling in the heads of the department, and the apathy in 
general on the suhjoct of literature in our Church at that 
period. And be it remembered that the above books had -been 
issued so repeatedly without adding anything to the variety, 
that it is believed if the Concern had gone on at this rate much 
longer, it would have run down for want of pecuniary support. 
The improvement, however, so much needed in this depart- 
ment, begun soon after, and has been gradually increasing ever 
since, as may be seen in the account given of this establish- 
ment in a subsequent chapter. 


for the taunting remark ; and it was not without much 
labor that the reproach has been, in some measure at 
least, rolled away from us. 

The fact is, that the destruction of Cokesbury Col- 
lege, and the failure in attempting to establish district 
schools and academies, seemed to throw a damper 
upon the spirits of those who had abetted learning, 
and to furnish those who were either inimical or in- 
different to its interests' with arguments against it; 
while the bungling attempts of some, who prematurely 
sent their ill-digested effusions into the world, disgust- 
ed all men of correct taste and wise discernment with 
tneir puerile productions. These causes operated 
conjointly to frustrate all attempts to revive the spirits 
of those who felt the necessity of furnishing our 
brethren and friends with that character of literature 
which the state of the Church and of society gene- 
rally imperiously demanded. 

Add to this, as an apology for the neglect, that many 
of our preachers were most assiduously engaged in 
the frontier settlements, preaching the gospel of the 
kingdom to the poor in log huts, and had therefore nei- 
ther the time nor the means to devote to literary pur- 
suits ; and it seemed to others, that all the pecuniary 
means at command were needed to supply the im- 
mediate wants of those who were thus engaged in 
winning souls to Jesus Christ from among the out- 
casts of men. In this most praiseworthy work they 
were eminently blessed. 

But whatever may have been the cause, or how 
reasonable soever may have been the excuse, for suf- 
fering ourselves to be for so long a time destitute of 
a medium of instruction and information, and of mu- 

14* ^ 

322 A HISTORY OF T1IK [1112. 

tual edification, such are the facts hi the case, and 
such are their consequences upon this portion of the 
Church's history. That a brighter day has dawned 
upon us in this respect is matter of congratulation 
among all the friends of the Church, of religion, sci- 
ence, and morals. 

In 1810 Mr. Lee's History of the Methodists 
made its appearance; but it by no means satisfied the 
friends of the cause, and the General Conference of 
1808, to which the manuscript was submitted, had 
reported adverse to its merits. To secure, therefore, 
a more perfect history of the Church was the anxious 
desire of Bishop Asbury and many others. To effect 
this object the subject had been submitted to the an- 
nual conferences, and they had appointed some mem- 
bers of their own body to collect facts and historical 
incidents for a future history, and to bring or forward 
them to this General Conference. Some few were 
presented, and they were referred to a committee to 
examine and report thereon. On examination it was 
found that though some of the facts collected were 
valuable, yet, on the whole, they were considered 
meagre and unsatisfactory. This appears evident 
from the following remark of the committee : — 

" We are of opinion that the letters submitted to 
us for examination contain some valuable information, 
and good materials for a history of Methodism, as far 
as they go ; but we think they are not sufficiently 
full on different points." 

After this the committee go on to state their views 
of the sort of materials which they considered essen- 
tial to form a complete history, such as accounts of 
the state of the country and the time when Methodism 


was introduced; its difficulties and success; biographi- 
cal sketches of eminent preachers and others, &c, &c; 
and then the)' recommend that each annual conference 
should appoint a committee of three to collect the 
needful information, directing that the presiding elders 
and preachers be instructed to aid in this work ; and 
then the New- York conference was authorized to en- 
gage a historian to digest and arrange the materials 
thus furnished, and prepare them for the press. In 
this report the conference fully concurred. 

All this was very well. But like many other good 
schemes which are never executed, merely because 
left to many hands, without any individual who should 
be responsible for its execution, this proved an abor- 
tion. Nothing effectual was ever done in the pre- 
mises. Yet the adoption of this report by the General 
Conference had its use. It no doubt served to direct 
the attention of individuals to this subject, and to call 
forth the talents of those brethren who have at differ- 
ent limes since written those sketches of Methodism 
to which the present history is much indebted. 

The following clause was added to the section on 
the legal settlement of church property : — 

" But each annual conference is authorized to make such 
modification in the deeds as they may find the different 
usages and customs of law require in the different states 
or territories, so as to secure the premises firmly, by deed, 
and permanently, to the Methodist Episcopal Church, ac- 
cording to the true intent and meaning of the following 
form of a deed of settlement, any thing in the said form to 
the contrary notwithstanding." 

The conference ordered that every " local elder, 


324 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

deacon, and preacher shall have his name recorded 
on the journal of the quarterly meeting conference of 
which he is a member." 

Hitherto the stewards of the circuits had been ap 
pointed by the preacher in charge ; but this confer 
ence resolved that the nomination of the preacher 
should be submitted to the quarterly-meeting confer- 
ence, for its concurrence or rejection, and likewise 
made the stewards amenable to said conference for 
their official conduct. 

A memorial having been presented from the quar- 
terly meeting conference in the city of New-York, 
praying the General Conference to adopt some means 
to raise a fund for the relief of the members of confer- 
ence, it was resolved, after considerable discussion, 

" That.each annual conference shall be authorized to 
raise, if they think proper, a fund, as in their wisdom they 
shall see fit, to be considered a fund for the relief of the 
wives, widows, and children of traveling preachers, and 
also for the relief of supernumerary and superannuated 
preachers, and affording supplies for missionary purposes." 

This is the first action which I have found on the 
records of the conference especially regarding missions ; 
and the reason is, not because the conference was at 
any time indifferent to the situation of those portions 
of the country which were destitute of the gospel, but 
because the whole system of Methodism had been very 
justly considered missionary in its character from the 
beginning ; but now so many inconveniences, not to 
say suffering embarrassments, had been realized from 
the poverty of the preachers, and also of the people 
in the new settlements, that the attention of some had 


become awakened to the importance of affording pe- 
cuniary relief, more effectually than it could be in the 
ordinary way, to those who were thus destitute, and 
to those who were willing and desirous to supply 
them with the ordinances of religion. And though 
this was but an incipient step, it led finally to more im- 
portant results, which will be noticed at the proper time. 

In respect to the fund which the annual conferences 
were authorized to raise for the relief of worn-out 
preachers, widows, and children, several of the con- 
ferences have availed themselves of it at different 
times, under such regulations as they deemed expedi- 
ent, some under the control of conference, and others 
by forming a society exclusively of such members as 
chose to become subscribers to the institution. But 
with all these helps, nothing like an adequate supply 
has ever been furnished those most needy and deserv- 
ing members of the Methodist community. Most assur- 
edly the widows and orphans, and those preachers who 
have worn themselves out in the service of the Church, 
ought not to be " neglected in the daily ministrations." 

The conference closed its labors on the 2 2d day 
of May, 1812, and sent out the following address as 
expressive of their feelings and views at this import- 
ant period of our history : — 

" The Address of the General Conference to the members of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of 

" Dearly Beloved Brethren : — When we retrospect 
the divine goodness toward us as a people, our hearts are 
animated with sentiments of praise and thanksgiving. We 
have been favored with repeated manifestations of the 
power and grace of God. The Redeemer has planted his 


326 A HISTORY OF THE [1812 

standard in the midst of us, and given astonishing success 
to our labors, and annually made accessions of thousands 
to our number. From the cold provinces of Canada to the 
sultry regions of Georgia — from the shores of the Atlantic 
to the waters of the Mississippi — in populous cities, im- 
proved countries, and dreary deserts, God has extended the 
triumphs of his grace. Infidelity trembles in the presence 
of the cross, superstition yields to the mild influence of 
the gospel, and ignorance vanishes before the auspicious 
beams of truth. In the revolution of a few years our num- 
ber has almost amounted to two hundred thousand, exclu- 
sive of expulsions, withdrawings, and the many happy 
souls who have departed in the faith and gone to their re- 
ward in heaven. We have mutually participated in our 

" The blessings you have received from God should 
humble you to the dust. A recollection of his mercies 
should inspire you with gratitude and love. All the divine 
benedictions conferred upon you have been unmerited and 
free. Undeserved blessings have been strewed in your 
paths, and distinguished compassion manifested in all your 
ways. Whilst myriads of your fellow-creatures grope in 
pagan darkness and Mohammedan delusion, you enjoy the 
light and truth of the gospel of Christ. In the midst of 
civil and ecclesiastical convulsions, you have enjoyed re- 
pose and tranquillity. You are therefore under peculiar 
obligations to grace. ' By grace are ye saved through 
faith ; and that not of yourselves ; it is the gift of God.' 
To him, therefore, ascribe the glory of your past and pre- 
sent prosperity. 

" Frequently in our solemn assemblies we have wit- 
nessed the effusions of grace, and joyfully experienced 
the overwhelming showers of redeeming love. We are 
bound to you by ties, which death itself cannot dissolve. 
With you again we renew our covenant, to live and di* 


your servants in Jesus Christ. You will, therefore, we 
hope, receive from us the word of exhortation. 

" The pursuit of internal religion in all its branches, we 
most ardently insist on. The religion of the Bible does 
not consist in rites and ceremonies ; in subscribing creeds 
and becoming violent partisans ; in the reveries of a heat- 
ed imagination, nor the paroxysms of agitated passions ; 
but in the mind which was in Jesus Christ ; in a victory 
over sin, and a conformity to the will of God ; ' in love, 
joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meek- 
ness and temperance ;' in all the amiable virtues which 
centre in the moral character of God. Without this holi- 
ness, we shall never enter into the kingdom of glory. ' Be 
ye holy, for I am holy,' said the almighty God. And no 
unclean thing shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, said 
Jesus Christ. Therefore" pursue this holiness with all the 
ardor of faith and hope. Never give sleep to your eyes, 
nor slumber to your eye-lids, until you awake with the 
lovely likeness of Christ. 

" Whilst we insist on internal, we d5 not forget external 
religion. You are commanded to ' let your light shine be- 
fore men, that they may see your good works, and glorify 
your Father who is in heaven ;' to walk worthy of the 
vocation wherewith you are called, and to be careful to 
maintain good works. The duties which God has enjoin- 
ed on us should be discharged with inviolate fidelity. The 
eyes of God are upon us ; the enemies of religion behold 
us, and our conscience will accuse or excuse us. O let 
us be holy in all our outgoings and incomings. 

" 'Search the Scriptures,' said Jesus Christ, 'for in them 
ye think ye have eternal life ; and they are they which tes- 
tify of me.' God has not left us to learn his nature and 
will merely from his works and providence ; he has re- 
vealed himself in the pages of inspiration, with all the per- 
spicuity necessary to make us wise unto salvation. This 


328 A HISTORY OF THE 11812 

holy revelation should be studied with industry, attention, 
and candor. We beseech you, read it in your families 
and in your closets. A proper knowledge of it will ren- 
der you happy in all the calamities of life, support you in 
the pangs of death, and prepare you for an endless enjoy- 
ment of heaven. 

" A strict attention to the Christian, ordinances we deem 
indispensably necessary. Christ himself instituted the 
holy ordinances of baptism and the sacrament of his sup- 
per. We trust his professed followers will never neglect 
them. They should be precious in our memory, and dear 
to our heart. ' Go ye,' said Jesus Christ, * and teach all 
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of 
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' And in reference to his 
supper he said, ' This do in remembrance of me.' 

" The sabbath of the Lord deserves your serious con- 
sideration and attention. It should be wholly consecrated 
to his service. All labor, vain conversation, worldly-mind- 
edness, and visiting, should be carefully avoided. Prayer, 
praise, searching the Scriptures, meditation, and waiting 
on God, should be our only employment. ' Remember the 
sabbath day to keep it holy,' is the language of God. 

" It is with regret that we have seen the use of ardent 
spirits, dram-drinking, &c, so common among the Method- 
ists. We have endeavored to suppress the practice by our 
example, but it is necessary that we add precept to ex- 
ample ; and we really think it not consistent with the 
character of a Christian, to be immersed in the practice 
of distilling or retailing an article so destructive to the 
morals of society, and we do most earnestly recommend 
the annual conferences and our people to join with us in 
making a firm and constant stand against an evil which 
has ruined thousands, both in time and eternity. 

" ' Be not conformed to this world,' said the Apostle St. 
Paul ; ' but be ye transformed by the renewing of your 


mind.' We should unanimously arise, and oppose the 
fashions and maxims of this ungodly world ; particularly in 
the article of dress. We are creatures of a moment, has- 
tening to the grave, and soon shall stand before God in 
judgment ; therefore let us not copy the fashions of the 
gay and thoughtless, especially by putting on gold, and 
costly apparel ; but dress with simplicity, gravity, and 

" The important duty of fasting has almost become ob- 
solete. This we are afraid will be productive of melan- 
choly effects. We yet have abundant cause for deep hu- 
miliation before God and one another. Our country is 
threatened, calamities stare us in the face, iniquity 
abounds, and the love of many waxes cold. O let us 
again resort to fasting and humiliation. 

" The propriety of religiously educating your children, 
we wish seriously to impress upon your minds. To in- 
struct them in the arts and sciences may be useful, but to 
teach the knowledge of God and their own hearts is ab- 
solutely necessary. It is only religion which can render 
them useful in society, happy in life, and triumphant in 
death. The effects of indifference to the education of 
children, must be seen and lamented by every friend to 
religion. Children who grow up in iniquity become ob- 
durate in sin, and prepared for almost every species of 
vileness. They transgress the laws of God, violate the 
principles of humanity, and frequently terminate their un- 
happy career covered with iniquity and disgrace. In- 
struct your children, therefore, in the principle and excel- 
lence of religion. Whilst young, take them by the hand 
and lead them into the salutary paths of wisdom and virtue. 
And rest assured, your labor shall not be in vain. For, 
said Solomon, ' train up a child in the way he should go, 
and when he is old he will not depart from it.' 

" Now, unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly 

330 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

above all that we can ask or think, according to the power 
that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the Church by Je- 
sus Christ throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." 

The Presiding Elder Question — Council for station- 
ing the Preachers. 

As this question was largely discussed at the above 
conference, as well as before and since, and has, at 
times, occasioned considerable uneasiness in some 
minds, this seems as suitable a place as any to redeem 
my pledge to present the question fully and fairly be- 
fore the reader. 

That it may be rightly understood, it is necessary 
to advert to the circumstances under which the prac- 
tice o-f fixing the stations of the preachers originated. 
When Mr. Wesley commenced his evangelical labors, 
and helpers were raised up to him from among his 
sons in the gospel, he was naturally led to appoint 
them to their particular fields of labor, and to change 
them as often as he judged it expedient ; and thus, 
from usage introduced in this way, it became an esta- 
blished law, so long as Mr. Wesley lived, to appoint 
each preacher to his circuit, to change him as often as 
he might think the state of the work required ; and I 
believe he never allowed any preacher to remain 
longer than two, or at most three years in one place. 
But after Mr. Wesley's death, this power devolved 
upon the conference, who appoint a stationing commit- 
tee every year, whose duty it is to fix the stations 
of the preachers, subject to an appeal to the con- 
ference, if any one thinks himself aggrieved. 

As this power was lodged in the hands of Mr. 
Wesley, and as his assistant in America acted as his 


representative, doing that which he would have done 
if present ; this assistant was in the habit of stationing 
the preachers, of removing or changing them as often 
and to whatever place it was judged the state of the 
work and the talents of the preachers might render it 
expedient. According to this usage, which had grown 
up with the growth of the societies in America, at the 
General Conference in 1784, when the societies 
were organized into a church, it was made the duty 
of the bishop " to fix the appointments of the preach- 
ers for the several circuits ; and in the intervals of 
the conference to change, receive, or suspend preach- 
ers* as necessity may require."* 

In the account given of the secession of O'Kelly 
and its causes, we have seen that he moved for an 
appeal to the conference from the appointment of the 
bishop, with the privilege, if any preacher thought 
himself injured by his appointment, to state his ob- 
jections, and if they were considered by the confer- 
ence valid, the bishop should appoint him to another 
circuit. This motion was, as heretofore related, af- 
ter a full discussion of its merits, decided in the neg- 
ative by a very large majority.f 

This decision put the question so completely at 
rest, that we find nothing more in relation to it until 
the General Conference of 1800, when Dr. Coke, 
after it had been determined to elect an additional 
bishop, presented the following resolution for the con- 
sideration of the conference : — 

" That the new bishop, whenever he presides in an an- 
nual conference, in the absence of Bishop Asbury, shall 

* See Vol. i, p. 176. f Ibid. p. 344. 

332 A HISTORY OF THK [1812. 

bring the stations of the preachers into the conference, 
and read" (them,) " that he may hear what the conference 
has to say upon each station." 

This motion was withdrawn by the mover; and 
another, that the " new bishop, in stationing the preach- 
ers, be aided by a committee of not less than three, 
nor more than four preachers, to be chosen by the 
conference," was, after an exchange of opinions in 
reference to it, rejected by the conference ; as well as 
several other attempts which were made by different 
members to restrict the power of the new bishop. 

From these movements it would appear that even 
those who were in favor of abridging the prerogative 
of the episcopacy in the work of stationing the 
preachers, were so fully convinced of the wisdom and 
strict integrity of Bishop Asbury, that they had no 
desire to curtail his conceded rights in this respect — 
a conviction highly creditable to him as the superin- 
tendent of the Church — and the majority determined 
that the new bishop should go into office clothed with 
the same powers which had been ceded to the senior 

I find nothing more on the records of the General 
Conference in reference to this question until 1808, 
when a motion was made to make the office of pre- 
siding elder elective by the votes of the annual con- 
ferences. This motion was largely, and by many of 
the speakers very ably and eloquently discussed, but 
was finally decided in the negative by a majority of 
twenty-one, fifty-two voting in favor and seventy- 
three against it. 

As this motion was, at the special request of the 
mover, disposed of before the resolutions providing 


for a delegated general conference were passed, it 
has been strongly urged by some that it should be 
considered unconstitutional either to elect the pre- 
siding elders or to associate a committee with the 
bishops in stationing the preachers ; while others con- 
tend that as there is nothing in the restrictive regula- 
tions bearing specifically on these points, it is still 
left optional with the conference to modify or change 
the manner of appointing those officers as may be 
judged expedient, and also to elect a committee to 
assist the bishop in stationing the preachers. 

^Whether this be so or not, the subject was agitated 
from one General Conference to another, until the 
year 1823, since which time it has been allowed to 
sleep in peace. At the conference of 1812 the same 
question was introduced by a motion from a member 
of the New-York conference, and fully discussed, but 
was lost by a majority of three, forty-two voting in 
favor and forty-five against it. It may be proper to 
observe here that the delegates in the Philadelphia, 
New-York, and Genesee conferences were all in favor 
of this measure, the majority in each being for it, 
and accordingly sent delegates who coincided with 
them in opinion ; 'but they were seconded by a few 
only from the southern and western delegates. 

The same fate attended a similar motion in 1816, 
although one of the bishops elected at that conference 
was known to be favorable to the proposed change in 
the mode of selecting the presiding elders. The re- 
solution of this conference was, as finally acted on, in 
the following words : — 

" The bishop, at an early period of the annual confer- 
ence, shall nominate an elder for each district, and the 



conference shall, without debate, either confirm or reject 
such nomination. If the person or persons so nominated 
be not elected by the conference, the bishop shall nomi- 
nate two others for each vacant district, one of whom 
shall be chosen. And the presiding elder so elected and 
appointed shall remain in office four years, unless dis- 
missed by the mutual consent of the bishop and confer- 
ence ; but no presiding elder shall be removed from office 
during the term of four years, unless the reasons for such 
removal be stated to him in presence of the conference 
which shall decide without debate on his case." 

It was then provided, in another paragraph, that 
the presiding elders thus selected, should form a coun- 
cil to assist the bishop in stationing the preachers. 

Perhaps a greater amount of talent was never 
brought to bear on any question ever brought before 
the General Conference, than was elicited from both 
sides of the house in the discussion of this resolu- 
tion. Some of the speeches were deep, pungent, and 
highly argumentative, the speakers throwing their 
whole souls into the subject, and winding themselves 
up to the highest pitch of impassioned eloquence, 
often concluding with a tremendous appeal to the 
understandings and consciences of their antagonists, 
both sides invoking the future prosperity of the Church 
as an auxiliary to their arguments. The vote ulti- 
mately declared the voice of the conference to be 
against the measure, thirty-eight voting in favor and 
sixty-three against it. 

The same question was brought forward in the 

General Conference of 1820, and after debate had 

thereon was again decided in the negative. As 

however, considerable uneasiness was manifested, 



particularly by the advocates of the measure, it was 
moved by Nathan Bangs, and seconded by William 
Capers, the former friendly and the latter adverse to 
the measure, 

" That three of the members who desire an election of 
the presiding elders, and an equal number of those who 
are opposed to any change of our present plan, be a com- 
mittee to confer with the bishops upon that subject, and 
that they report to us whether any, and if any, what alter- 
ations might be made to conciliate the wishes of the 
brethren upon this subject, and that they report to- 

fThis resolution having passed the conference, the 
following were appointed members of the commit- 
tee : — Ezekiel Cooper, Stephen G. Roszel, Nathan 
Bangs, Joshua Wells, John Emory, William Capers. 

After a conference with the bishops, agreeably to 
their instructions, the committee unanimously concur- 
red in the following report : — 

" The committee appointed to confer with the bishops 
on a plan to conciliate the wishes of the brethren on the 
subject of choosing presiding elders, recommend to the 
conference the adoption of the following resolutions, to be 
inserted in their proper place in the Discipline, namely: — 

"1. That whenever in any animal conference there 
shall be a vacancy or vacancies in the office of presiding 
elder, in consequence of his period of service of four years 
having expired, or the bishop wishing to remove any pre- 
siding elder, or by death, resignation or otherwise, the 
bishop or president of the conference having ascertained 
the number wanted from any of these causes, shall nomi- 
nate three times the number, out of which the conference 
shall elect by ballot, without debate, the number wanted ; — 
provided, when there is more than one wanted, not more 


than three at a time shall be nominated, nor more than 
one at a time elected ; — Provided also, that in case of any 
vacancy or vacancies in the office of presiding elder in the 
interval of any annual conference, the bishop shall have 
authority to fill the said vacancy or vacancies, until the 
ensuing annual conference. 

" 2. That the presiding elders be and hereby are made 
the advisory council of the bishop or president of the con- 
ference in stationing the preachers." 

This report was signed by all the members of the 
committee above named, and submitted to the con- 
ference in the afternoon session of May 20th, and, 
after some little conversation in respect to its merits, 
was passed by a majority of thirty-six votes, sixty-one 
m favor and twenty-five against it. As this was pre- 
sented and adopted in the spirit of compromise, it 
was hoped by many on both sides of the house, 
that this long agitated question would be allowed to 
rest in quiet. 

In this expectation they were, however, disappoint- 
ed ; for the Rev. Joshua Soule, who had been elected 
on the 13th to the episcopal office, after a prayerful 
and mature consideration of the subject, signified to 
the conference that- if consecrated a bishop, inasmuch 
as these resolutions were adopted after his election, 
and were, in his judgment, unconstitutional, he could 
not consistently with his views of duty, be controlled 
by them : and Bishop M'Kendree, whose health 
would not permit him to participate much in the 
doings of the conference, on the 23d, three days 
after their passage, came into the conference, and, 
after assigning sundry reasons, entered his objections 
against them as unconstitutional, and, as he apprehend- 


ed, subversive of the grand system of an efficient and 
general superintendency and itinerancy. 

The judgment of these two men, both justly re- 
spected, — the one on account of his office, leng and 
laborious services, his age and experience, the other 
for having the confidence of a majority of his brethren 
for one of the superintendents of the Church, — had great 
influence upon the minds of many, and led to a serious 
suspense in respect to the expediency of the measure. 

These movements, indeed, created quite a sensation 
in the minds of those who were the most deeply in- 
terested in the stability and prosperity of our institu- 
tions on both sides of the question, and the more so, 
as the bishop elect had tendered his resignation; which 
was finally accepted by the conference. Hence, after 
an ineffectual attempt to get the above resolutions re- 
considered, a motion was at length made and carried, 
that they be suspended for four years, and that in 
the mean time the government should be adminis- 
tered as heretofore. 

In 1824, their suspension was continued, and at 
the General Conference in Pittsburgh, in 1828, they 
were called up,, and with but a feeble opposition were 
rescinded, and the subject has not been since agitated. 

I have thus endeavored to furnish the reader with 
a true and impartial narration of the facts in relation 
to a question which has caused more agitation in our 
Church, and sometimes seemed to threaten more dis- 
astrous consequences, than any other which, up to 
that time, had been canvassed on the floor of the Gene- 
ral Conference. It only remains now, that the pro- 
minence and importance given to it may be duly ap- 
preciated, to state the outlines of the arguments which 

Vol II.— 15 


were used for and against the proposed alteration, by 
those who entered most deeply into the discussion 
Those in favor of the change, alleged, 

1. That it is more in conformity to the genius of 
the American people to have a voice in the election 
of those who are to rule over them ; and as the pre- 
siding elders were, by the usages of the Church, en- 
trusted with a controlling influence over the preach- 
ers, they ought to have a choice in their selection. 

2. It was contended that so long as they were ap- 
pointed by the bishop, it necessarily augmented the 
power of the episcopacy, as, by virtue of this appoint- 
ment, the presiding elders were amenable to the bishop 
alone for their official conduct, and not to their 
brethren in the conference. 

3. Hence, the preacher, let him be oppressed 
over so much in his appointment, has no medium of 
redress within his reach, as his case is represented to 
the appointing power through an ecclesiastical officer 
over whom he has no control, and who is completely 
in the bishop's confidence and at his disposal. 

4. These things, it was contended, were incom- 
patible with the natural and civil rights of freemen, 
and especially with that equality among brethren of 
the same ministerial order, as are the presiding 
elders and all the other elders in the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church. 

5. As to a council to advise with the bishops in 
stationing the preachers, it was pleaded that however 
wise and good the bishop m'ght be, it was impossible 
for him to have that knowledge of the local state 
of the people and peculiar circumstances of the 
preachers, which is essential to enable him to make 


the most judicious appointments ; and hence he as- 
sumed a responsibility for which he could not ration- 
ally account. 

6. And then to give one man the complete con- 
trol over five hundred others, many of whom may be 
equal to him in age and experience, and perhaps also 
in wisdom, learning, and goodness, and as likely to 
be as disinterested in their views and feelings, was an 
anomaly in legislation and an absurdity in practice 
for which no arguments could be adduced, derived 
from either Scripture or the fitness of things. 

7. That however safely this prerogative might be 
exercised by Bishop Asbury, especially in the infancy 
of the Church, when the number of preachers was 
few, it had now become impossible, on the increase 
of preachers and people, for a bishop to exercise 
such a tremendous power intelligibly and safely to 
all concerned. Bishop Asbury, it was argued, was 
the father of the connection, and felt for the entire 
family in a way that no one else could, and therefore 
no one else ought to be entrusted with the same 
power which he had exercised. 

8. The example of our British brethren was cited, 
who, after the death of Mr. Wesley, had given the 
power of stationing the preachers to a committee, and 
then they were allowed an appeal to the conference. 

To these arguments, it was answered, 
1. That the Church of Christ was founded, in 
some respects, upon very different principles from 
those on which civil governments rested, and there- 
fore, though analogous in some particulars, yet in 
others the contrast was so obvious as to neutralize 
ah analogical arguments. That though the people 



elected iheir legislators, president, and governors, yet 
most of the executive officers were appointed by the 
president; and as presiding elders were executive offi- 
cers, their appointment by the bishop might be justi- 
fied even from analogy. 

2. Though it was admitted that they strengthened 
the hands of the episcopacy, yet being appointed by 
him saved the Church from an evil more to be dread- 
ed than mere episcopal power, and that was an elec- 
tioneering spirit, which must keep the conferences in 
perpetual agitations — engendering a strife incompati- 
ble with the spirit of harmony and brotherly love. 

3. Hence, though a preacher might, either from 
inadvertence or design, be injured in his appointment, 
yet to make the presiding elder dependant on the 
choice of an annual conference might make him fear 
to do his duty, in respect to enforcing discipline, and 
in exacting vigilance from those under him in the dis- 
charge of duty; moreover his redress was always with 
the bishop and the annual conference, to whom con- 
jointly the presiding elder is responsible for his offi- 
cial conduct. 

. 4. As to natural and civil rights, it was retorted, 
that though a Methodist preacher retained them as 
a citizen, yet the moment he entered the itinerancy, 
he became subject to ecclesiastical restraints which, 
though not incompatible with his rights as a freeman, 
were nevertheless essential to the preservation and 
efficient operation of the itinerancy. 

5. In respect to the necessity, arising from the 
limited information and want of local knowledge of a 
bishop, of associating others with him in stationing 
the preachers, this was remedied in oractice by his 


receiving all the information he could from presiding 
elders and others, and then acting according to the 
dictates of an unbiased judgment, which was less 
likely to be influenced by local prejudices than those 
who, from their more limited sphere of information, 
were liable to be biased by partial interests and 
local feelings. 

6. As to an unlimited control over five hundred 
men, more or less, while it was admitted that many 
of them might be equal to the bishop in general wis- 
dom and experience, yet they could not, from their po- 
sition, have that comprehensive knowledge of the whole 
vvork, and that experience arising from extensive travel 
and information which belonged to an itinerating 
episcopacy ; and, moreover, this control had a check 
in annual conferences, who might ultimately determine 
whether a preacher was justified or not in refusing to 
go to his appointment, and also by the General Con- 
ference, under the inspection of which the bishop's 
conduct passed every fourth year. 

7. Though it be admitted that Bishop Asbury sus- 
tained a fatherly relation to the Church which none 
of his successors could, and had a more intimate 
knowledge of preachers and people, both from his 
having grown up with them, and the comparative 
smallness of their number, yet it was contended, that 
the having an increased number of bishops, together 
.with those restraints constantly thrown around them 
by the watchful vigilance of their brethren in the an- 
nual and general conferences, would prevent a wanton 
exercise of power, and render it still safe in their 

8. As to our British brethren, they had no other 
visible head than their conference,. But we have, 



and therefore can act more efficiently through this 
medium, than we could do by a stationing committee. 
It was still further contended, and with great force 
of argument, that if this power were taken from the 
bishops, it would be extremely difficult to keep up an 
interchange of preachers from one annual conference 
to another, a difficulty not felt in England, where 
they were all united in one conference, in which all 
their business was transacted. 

In the course of this discussion two opposite views 
were taken of the doctrine of responsibility. Some 
of those who contended for reserving this power in 
the hands of the bishop, insisted that the episcopacy 
was responsible for the entire executive administra- 
tion, in all its ramifications, and therefore, in order 
that it might exercise it safely, it must have the con- 
trol of the appointments, not indeed to office, but to 
the several stations, so that if those acting under its 
appointment did not discharge their trusts with fidelity, 
they might be removed or changed at pleasure ; and 
as a strong and commanding motive for a wise and 
faithful execution of this high trust, the episcopacy 
was held responsible to the General Conference, 
which had entrusted to the bishops the preservation 
of our itinerancy in all its parts ; and this they could 
not do if the power of appointment were taken from 

To this it was replied, that though this seemed 
very plausible in theory, it was not possible to exem- 
plify it in practice — that it was loading the episco 
pacy with a weight of responsibility too heavy for 
any mortal and fallible man to bear, and therefore 
must ultimately crush the episcopacy beneath its 


pressure. To prevent this it would be most judi- 
cious to divide the responsibility among the several 
annual conferences, and hold the presiding elders 
especially strictly responsible to them for their 
official as well as their moral and Christian con- 
duct — as it was admitted on all hands that the 
preachers were held accountable to their respective 
conferences for their ministerial and Christian conduct, 
it was in vain to contend that the episcopacy should 
be made liable to censure for their malversation. 
The former traced responsibility from the General 
Conference, who made the regulations and judged of 
episcopal acts, to the episcopacy, and thence down 
through the several grades of Church officers : the 
latter traced it up through the societies, to quarterly 
and annual conferences, to the General Conference ; 
while others contended, with more truth than either, it is 
believed, that each body and officer was accounta- 
ble for its and his own conduct, and the latter to the 
tribunal from which he received his authority, and 
held the right to call him to an account for his acts 
and deeds. 

These several topics, with others of a collateral 
character, were enlarged upon and amplified at the 
several stages of this discussion, according to the pe- 
culiar views and feelings of the several speakers who 
distinguished themselves on each side of the ques- 
tion, until the subject seemed to be exhausted ; when 
finally, other matters of weightier importance and 
more seriously affecting the vital principles of Me- 
thodism, called off the attention of all from this ques- 
tion, and led them to a union of effort to preserve our 

institutions from deterioration ; and this union served 



to convince both that if they had at any time indulged 
suspicions of each other's attachment to the essential 
principles of our economy, they had labored under 
erroneous impressions. 

That such suspicions were indulged to some extent, 
there is reason to believe ; and it was this which 
sometimes gave an irritating poignancy to some of 
the remarks and arguments, and led to momentary 
interruptions of brotherly affection. But I think I 
may now venture to say without the fear of contra- 
diction, that among those who advocated this modifi- 
cation in a feature of our government, there have been 
found those who have manifested an unabated attach- 
ment to the episcopacy, to the itinerancy, and the en- 
tire economy of our Church, and have done as much 
effectually to support it as any of their brethren ; and 
I am equally well convinced that those who withstood 
all such alterations were actuated by the same hal- 
lowed motives, and that it was an honest fear that if 
admitted, they would impair the integrity and weaken 
the force and energy of the general system, and thus 
impede its progress in its career of usefulness ; but 
now, having for the present buried all differences of 
opinion, both may rejoice together in working unitedly 
in carrying forward the grand cause in which we are 
mutually engaged, and in striving to hand down the 
Methodism, which we all love, unimpaired to the gene- 
rations that may come after us. 

It will be perceived by the attentive reader, that it 
was admitted on all hands that a power to station the 
ministry must exist somewhere, or the itinerancy would 
stop. For the moment it is admitted that a minister 
may choose his own station, or that the people may 


control it, the itinerancy falls to pieces. The only 
controversy therefore was, where can the stationing 
power be the most usefully, safely, and energetically 
lodged, and the majority have hitherto decided with 
the bishops — and there let it rest, unless future events 
shall reveal such an abuse of the power as will ren- 
der it necessary either to dissolve the itinerancy or 
to commit its destinies to other hands — neither of 
which, it is hoped, will ever be realized. 

I know it has been contended by some that the 
people are hereby deprived of all their rights in the 
choice of their minister. This, however, is, I think, 
a "great mistake. They choose and recommend them 
all, in the first instance, in their primary assemblies ; 
for no man can receive a license, either to exhort or 
preach, unless he be first recommended by the class 
or leaders' meeting to which he belongs. He then 
passes up through the quarterly-meeting conference, 
composed of his peers, and thence to the annual con- 
ference, in the meantime exercising his gifts among 
the brethren who are the ultimate judges of his quali- 
fications and usefulness. 

In the next place the people have access to the 
stationing power, and are respectfully heard ; for 
Bishop Asbury used to say, we must never deny our 
people the right of being heard by petition or remon- 
strance ; as this is all the choice they either have or 
demand in respect to whom they will have to rule 
over and to preach to them ; and therefore were this 
denied them, they might well complain of a spiritual 
despotism. Except the Congregationalists — and I do 
not know that we ought to except! even these — the 

t That the reader may perceive the reason why it is doubt- 
15* 2 


Methodists have as much of a voice in the choice of 
their ministers, as any other denomination ; for the 
Presbyterians can neither settle nor dismiss a minis- 
ter without the consent of the presbytery, nor the 

ed whether or no any exception should be made, let him recol- 
lect that the Congregationalists claim to exercise the right of 
choosing their own ministers, and of dismissing them at plea- 
sure. Now let us suppose in a certain district of country 
there are one hundred congregations and as many ministers to 
supply them ; that among these one hundred ministers there 
are say twenty of eminent talents, thirty of middling, and the 
other fifty ranking among those of the more ordinary class. It 
may be supposed that each of the one hundred congregations 
will choose one of the twenty, but eighty of them must be dis- 
appointed ; and then, allowing them to make choice of the 
other thirty, fifty of these must yet be disappointed, and must, 
therefore, either do without any, or take the man they do not 
want ; for these congregations can no more be certain of the 
man of their choice, than they would if the ultimate decision 
were left with a third person. 

Even in this respect, therefore, they are no more likely to 
be gratified in their choice than a Methodist congregation. In 
another respect the Methodists have greatly the advantage, both 
ministers and people. If the Methodist people get a minister 
who does not suit them, they may, by remonstrance to the ap 
pointing power, rid themselves of him at the end of one year, 
or at the end of two years he must be removed to another 
place. Not so with the Congregationalists, nor any of the 
other denominations we have mentioned. Some settle for life, 
and some for a term of years. In such cases they must, how- 
ever disagreeable he may be, either keep him to the end of 
the term, or hire him to depart. Or if he be engaged from 
year to year, what fluctuations in uncertainty may agitate both 
minister and people ; and if the former be dismissed, the latter 
are not sure of a better, while the minister himself is thrown 
out upon the world pennyless, until he can ingratiate himself 
into the favor of some other people less particular than those 
he left, in respect to ministerial qualifications. 

Now these evils are, in a great measure at least, remedied 


Protestant Episcopalians, or other Episcopal Church- 
es, without the consent of their bishop. There must, 
in the nature of things, be an umpire somewhere, to 
decide this question ; and the Methodist Episcopal 
Church has seen fit, for the reasons already assigned, 
to commit it to the episcopacy ; and if it require a 
greater sacrifice on the part of the ministry to bow to 
its exercise than some others are willing to make, it 
must be admitted, I think, on all hands, that it is a 
mode of procedure which has so far worked energeti- 
cally and most beneficially for the best interests of 
the people generally ; for all classes have more or 
le'ss either seen or felt its benign effects in bringing 
sinners from darkness to light, and preserving the 
Church in peace and purity. 


From the close of the General Conference of 1812 to the death of 
Bishop Asbury, in 1816. 

Soon after the adjournment of the conference, 
namely, on the 18th of June, the United States de- 
clared war against Great Britain. Though this event 
had been expected for some time, yet it created a 
great sensation throughout the country, and particu- 
larly among those who regarded religion as breathing 
nought but peace and good will to man. The note 
of preparation, however, was soon sounded through all 

by the system adopted by the Methodist plan of stationing the 
preachers. It has another immense advantage over the other — 
it diffuses ministerial gifts, by a yearly or biennial interchange, 
over the whole surface of the Church ; and thus, " if one suf- 
fer all suffer with it," and all are equally partakers of the gifts 
and graces of the entire ministry. 

348 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

our borders ; and as it was expected that the war would 
rage principally along our western and north-western 
frontiers, where the inhabitants of the United States and 
of the Canadas approximated each other, it was fore 
seen that the Methodists in these two countries must 
necessarily come into unhappy collisions with each 
other, and perhaps be obliged, however reluctantly, to 
spill each other's blood.* 

Only one preacher, therefore, Thomas Burch, who 
volunteered for Canada from the United States, arrived 
there ; the other, Nathan Bangs, who was appointed 
presiding elder in the lower province, but was to have 
charge also of Montreal, by the consent of the bishops, 
relinquished his journey, after removing from New- 
York as far as Lansingburgh, and remained in the 
United States. 

In consequence of this state of things the brethren 
in Upper Canada were prevented from attending the 
Genesee conference, to which they were now attach- 
ed ; and as all friendly intercourse between the two 
countries was suspended, they were necessarily left to 
take care of themselves in the best way they could. 
This laid the foundation of that uneasiness in the 
Canadas which eventuated in the separation of the 
work in those provinces from the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, and led to their connection finally with 
the Wesleyan Methodist Conference. f 

The great success which accompanied the labors 
of the Methodist itinerants in the western states and 

* See note A at the end of the volume. 

j" This event, with the causes which led to it, belongs to 
another period of our history, and will be noticed in its proper 


territories, and the growing importance in a national 
point of view, of those parts of the federal union, 
began to attract the attention and to call forth the en- 
ergies of other denominations. Hitherto these had, 
on many occasions, affected to treat the Methodists 
with silent contempt, as unworthy of notice. But 
their growing prosperity in almost every direction, 
seemed at length to awaken others to activity in 
striving to imitate them in their zealous efforts to ex- 
tend the gospel by means of missionary labors in the 
new countries and elsewhere. 

.In 1810 the American Board of Commissioners 
commenced its operations, and not long after, with a 
view to furnish them with suitable agents, who might 
be willing to endure the fatigues and privations inci- 
dent to a missionary life in the new countries, " The 
Charitable Society for the Education of Pious Young 
Men for the Ministry of the Gospel" was instituted. 
And in order to ascertain the true state of things in 
the western country, a commission was sent about 
this time on an exploring expedition through the new 
states and territories, and Schermerhorn and Mills 
were intrusted with its execution. The report of 
their travels was published ; and as they animadvert- 
ed quite freely upon the economy of the Methodist 
Church, upon the conduct of its ministers, and general 
plan of operations, it roused the indignation of many, 
and more especially of those who had spent their life 
and sacrificed their all of mere earthly enjoyments to 
plant the standard of the cross in those new countries. 
One thing seemed to astonish these gentlemen very 
much, and shows their want of information in regard 
to the economy of our Church, and that was in al- 


350 A HISTORY OF THE [1812. 

most every settlement they visited they found not only 
Methodists and Methodist preachers, but also Method- 
ist books, and the query was, whence they came — 
when, lo and behold ! they were informed that these 
were sold, and the proceeds forwarded to New-York 
to furnish means to print and circulate more ! And 
thus the imagination of those gentlemen and their hon- 
est readers was filled with the alarming apprehension 
that the country was in danger of being flooded with 
Methodist publications. 

Another danger to be apprehended was the perni- 
cious consequences resulting to the population of the 
west from the prevalence of Methodist doctrine and 
usages ; and, in order to give effect to the note of 
alarm, and the danger to be apprehended from the 
rapid increase of the societies, they told their readers 
that persons were received into the Church with only 
the " expression of desire," thus mutilating the lan- 
guage of the " General Rules of the United Societies," 
for the purpose, as it would seem, of lowering the 
character of Methodism in the public estimation ; for 
the readers of this report would not know whether 
the condition of membership was a " desire" for 
riches, for honor, or a desire merely to become Method- 
ists — whereas the " rules" specify the character of 
the desire, and likewise state the evidence of its real 
existence — " a desire to flee the wrath to come, and 
to be saved from their sins," affirming that evidence 
of such a desire is manifested " by avoiding evil of 
every kind, and doing good of every possible sort, ac- 
cording to their power and opportunity." 

Those who read this pamphlet, and who were ac- 
quainted with the state of things in the west, were 


somewhat surprised that while the people there were 
growing up into settlements, towns, and villages, des- 
titute of the ordinances of religion, those who sustain- 
ed the present commission manifested no concern at 
all for their spiritual welfare ; but that now, since the 
towns were built, the " wilderness turned into a fruitful 
field," and Methodist circuits, societies, districts, and 
even annual conferences established there, they should 
all at once awake as from a profound sleep, and casting 
a hasty glance over the land, should discover that the 
people were going fast to destruction, and that Me- 
thodism was poisoning* the fountains of knowledge 
and religion with its pestiferous breath ! 

These things are mentioned because they form, in 
some respects, a new era in the history of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, particularly in the west, and led to a 
new sort of warfare which we have been called upon 
to sustain in order to rescue our institutions from re- 
proach, and to preserve our plans of procedure from 
being frustrated by new modes of attack. The sequel 
of our history will develope all these things, and place 
them in a true point of light. 

Bishop Asbury, though he continued his annual 
tour of the continent, and attended the conferences in 
company with his colleague, Bishop M'Kendree, be- 
gan to totter under the infirmities of age, and frequent 
attacks of disease. He was in New-England when 
the proclamation of the president of the United States 
announced to the people that war was declared against 
Great Britain. He who had passed unscathed through 
a bloody contest of seven years' duration, suffering 
numerous hardships in striving to preserve a pure 
conscience while propagating a religion of peace and 


352 A HISTORY OF THE fl812. 

good-will, could not behold the approach of ano- 
ther struggle of a similar character, without feelings 
of anxiety and alarm. These he expressed in a very 
emphatic manner to the writer of these pages, remark- 
ing, in reference to our intercourse with our Canadian 
brethren, " there is no mercy in war, and hence we 
must expect much suffering on our frontier settle- 
ments," and concluded by saying, that "doubtless our 
sins as a nation had provoked the divine indignation 
against us, and therefore we must expect to suffer." 

He, however, kept on his way, exclaiming with 
pious resignation, " I live in God from moment to 
moment." Beholding the demoralizing tendency of 
strong drink, in a certain neighbourhood, he observes, 
" They are decent in their behaviour, and would be 
more so, were it not for vile whiskey. This is the 
prime curse of the United States, and will be, I fear 
much, the ruin of all that is excellent in morals and 
government in them. Lord, interpose thine arm !" 
How would his soul have expanded with gratitude and 
delight to have beheld the temperance reformation 
which began its salutary operations since his day ! 
And would he not have deprecated any effort to weak- 
en its force, especially by those who claim to be his 
sons in the gospel ? 

After traversing various parts of the country, often 
trembling under the infirmities of a sickly body, cross- 
ing the Alleghany mountains, and descending into the 
valley of the Ohio, attending several camp-meetings in 
his route, he says, "I shall have traveled six thousand 
miles in eight months, met in nine conferences, and 
have been present in ten camp-meetings." But then 
he adds soon after, in reference to his labors and 


physical sufferings, for such was his debility that his 
friends sometimes had to lift him into his carriage, 
" O let us not complain, when we think of the suffer- 
ing, wounded, and^dying of the hostile armies ! If 
we suffer, what shall comfort us? Let us see — .Ohio 
will give us six thousand for her increase of members 
in one new district." This indeed was his reward ; 
all he asked or sought of his labors and sufferings. 
And it shows also, that notwithstanding hostile armies 
were already measuring swords, the God of Israel was 
still at work for the salvation of the people. 

It appears, indeed, that in the midst of the agitations 
occasioned by the war which began to rage on the 
frontier, and in some places upon the sea-board, God 
wrought in a powerful manner in various parts of the 
country, particularly on the James River district, 
where not less than six hundred were brought into the 
Church, chiefly through the agency of camp-meetings. 
In the New-London district also there was a gracious 
work of God, including some towns in Rhode Island, 
in which upward of one hundred souls were brought 
into gospel fellowship, some of whom connected them- 
selves with other denominations. 

Forty-eight were located this year, ten returned 
supernumerary, eighteen superannuated, one was ex- 
pelled, and six had died. These last were Samuel 
Mills, Nathan Weedon, Jesse Pin n ell, Lansford 
Whiting, Samuel Thomas, and Greenleaf N. Norris. 
Some of these had labored long and faithfully, and they 
all died witnessing a good confession, and are, no doubt, 
gathered to their fathers in a better world. 


354 A HISTORY OF THE 1813. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 156,852 38,505 195,357 678 
Last year 148,835 35,732 184,567 668 

Increase 8,017 2,773 10,790 10~" 

1813. There were nine annual conferences this 
year, the Mississippi Conference which was author- 
ized to be formed, if the bishops saw it needful, not 
having been established. 

The times were distressing along the lines between 
the United States and the Canadas, as those places 
were the principal scenes of the war which was now 
raging with increasing violence between the two 
countries. This not only broke off all friendly inter- 
course with each other, but kept the inhabitants in a 
continual state of alarm and irritation, quite unfriend- 
ly to the progress of pure religion. But notwith- 
standing this state of things, there were very exten- 
sive revivals of religion in other places, so that the 
increase of members was considerably more than it 
had been for several years previously, as may be seen 
below. Probably many were led to pray more fer- 
vently and to labor more faithfully in consequence of 
the afflictions which were felt in the country, while 
others were induced to think more seriously on their 
latter end. 

Among those who located in the New-England 
Conference this year, was Pliny Brett, whose admis 
sion into the conference had been deferred for one 
year at the time he was eligible to be received into 
lull connection. Soon after his location he withdrew 
from the Church, put himself at the head of a parly 


under the denomination of " Reformed Methodists." 
He lured from the Church several local preachers, and a 
considerable number of members, almost entirely break- 
ing up some small societies, and thereby occasioned 
much uneasiness where he commenced his operations, 
which was in Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. From 
thence his influence extended into Vermont, where 
he was seconded in his endeavors to draw away dis- 
ciples after him by a local preacher by the name of 
Baity. They succeeded in raising a considerable 
parly, which, for a short season, made some inroads 
upon our Church; and though Mr. Baily succeeded in 
establishing some congregations, and still lives to 
enjoy the fruit of his labors, yet the influence of the 
parly is very limited, and furnishes another evidence 
that it requires a union of deep piety and much talent 
to found a distinct denomination of sufficient magnitude 
to command public confidence, and to exert an exten- 
sive influence on the community. 

While these things were testing the faith and pa 
tience of some, and " garments rolled in blood" were 
frightening others with fearful apprehensions for the 
stability of our political institutions, the faithful ser- 
vants of God, keeping aloof as much as possible from 
the strife of party and the war of words, steadily pur- 
sued their way in search of " the lost sheep of the 
house of Israel." It is due to truth, however, to re- 
mark, that while ministers of the gospel, biased per- 
haps too much by some influential members of their 
congregations, refused even to pray for their rulers 
and country,* Bishop Asbury, who had long since 

* It is stated, on good authority, that in the time of the war, 


356 A HISTORY OF THE [1813 

adopted this country as his own, and most cordially 
loved its institutions, declared most plainly and point- 
edly, on the floor of an annual conference, that he 
who refused, at this time especially, to pray for his 
country, deserved not the name of a Christian or a 
Christian minister, inasmuch as it was specifically en- 
joined on all such, not only to honor magistrates, but to 
'• pray for all that are in authority, that we may lead 
quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty." 
It was very manifest to all who saw him, that Bishop 
Asbury was sinking under the infirmities of a sickly 
body, weakened from time to time by exposures to 
inclement seasons, continual labors, and oppressed 
with a multitude of cares, known only to those who 
feel the weight of such a responsible station. 
Nevertheless, although his friends sometimes remon- 
strated against it, he still performed his annual tour 
of the continent, shunning no danger, deferring no 
duty which might be performed to-day, from a fear 
that he should not have strength for the morrow, but 
both publicly and privately admonishing all who came 
in his way of the danger of sin, and encouraging the 
good to persevere in their work. To aid him in 
scattering the good seed of the kingdom, he furnished 
himself with religious tracts, sometimes getting them 
printed at his own expense — for as yet we had no 
tract society — Bibles, and Testaments, which he dis- 

a number of clergymen in the city of New- York- held a meet- 
ing- for the purpose of deliberating on the propriety of praying 
for their civil rulers, and they finally came to the grave con- 
clusion that they could not do it conscientiously. This, how- 
ever, was by no means the case with all, though I believe most 
of the clergy in the eastern states were very much opposed to 
the measures of the government. 


tributed among the poor ; and to assist in extending 
the work in the poorer settlements, he handed his 
" mite subscription" to all whom he considered able 
to give, "allowing no individual to subscribe over one 
dollar, though, if they chose, each member of the fa- 
mily might become a donor. 

Apprehensive, as it seems from notices in his jour- 
nals, that he had not many years to live, he dictated 
a valedictory address to his colleague, Bishop M'Ken- 
dree, on the order and institutions of the primitive 
Church ; and on Friday, October 29th, he says : — " On 
thejDeaceful banks of the Saluda I wrote my valedic- 
tory address to the presiding elders." In another 
place he speaks of having made his will, in which he 
says that, through the benevolence of some kind 
friends who had died childless, about two thousand dol- 
lars had been bequeathed to him, which he should leave 
to the Book Concern. " Let it return," he remarks, 
" and continue to aid the cause of piety." 

In the labors of the conferences he often speaks 
in terms of eulogy upon the help afforded him by 
Bishop M'Kendree, who, if he did not always travel 
by his side, generally met him at the annual confer- 
ences, and discharged most of the active duties of 
president, and assisted in the ordinations and othej: ser- 
vices of the sanctuary. He needed not indeed any 
other stimulant to active exertions than his own burn- 
ing zeal for God, and the example constantly set him 
by his senior in office. Mutual affection and respect 
bound them together, and made them '" true yoke-fel- 
lows" in the laborious exercise of their joint superin- 
tendency. By this means they threw around the 
general itinerancy, and the entire work, a weight of 


358 A HISTORY OF THE [1813. 

influence not easily resisted, but it was felt from the 
centre to the circumference of the connection. 

Thus by the example of their superintendents, 
whose joint labors produced a most happy effect, the 
presiding elders upon their districts, the elders, dea- 
cons, and preachers upon their several circuits and 
stations, were stimulated to active diligence, and the 
members of the Church generally participated in the 
spirit which actuated their leaders. By this united and 
harmonious action, as before said, notwithstanding the 
noise of battle was heard along the frontiers, height- 
ened as it sometimes was by the war-whoop of hos- 
tile Indians who were invading some of the defence- 
less settlements, the Church was generally pros- 
perous, sinners were converted, and saints " built up 
on their most holy faith." 

Yet sixty-three preachers were located ! eleven be- 
came supernumerary, twenty superannuated, three 
were expelled, and one, William B. Lacy, withdrew, 
and afterward connected himself with the Protestant 
Episcopal Church. 

Thomas Branch, John Crane, Jacob Rumph, Jesse 
Brown, William Young, Lasley Matthews, John Smith, 
Robert Hebard, John Russell, and Ebenezer White, 
having fulfilled their ministry with fidelity, had taken 
their departure to another world during the past year. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 171,448 42,859 214,307 700 
Last year 156,852 38,505 195,357 716 

Increase 14,596 4,354 18,950 De. 16* 

* The preachers in Canada, owing to the war, are not in- 


1814. The more than usual increase during the 
past year, in the midst of the agitation of war and its 
attendant evils, shows that religion had a strong hold 
upon the affections of the people, and that while the 
clarion of war sounded along our frontiers and echoed 
over the waters of the lakes, as well as upon the 
waves of the ocean, men were not unmindful of their 
duty to God and to one another. Indeed, those who 
viewed war among the sorest of God's judgments, 
and whose hearts were panting for the return of 
peace, were led to humble themselves by fasting and 
prayer, that the God of peace and love might visit 
his heritage more plentifully with the showers of his 
grace. And how much these faithful prayers might 
have contributed to hasten a termination of the bloody 
conflict, and to bring about the blessings of peace, 
who but the Omniscient can tell ? If, in answer to 
the prayer of faith in his Son, " He lets his lifted 
thunder drop" — if " God's hands or bound or open 
are, as Moses or Elijah prays" — and if God would 
spare the devoted " cities of the plain" for the sake 
of ten righteous persons — may we not believe that 
he might have inclined the hearts of the rulers of 
Great Britain and America to pacific measures in 
answer to the prayers of his people on both sides of 
the Atlantic ? That there were many such we know. 
That they deprecated this war as unnatural, and as 
tending to desolate the earth in vain, is equally cer- 
tain. And hence the united prayers of many went 

eluded in this enumeration, which makes the apparent decrease : 
nor are the 'members, else the increase would have appeared 
nearly three thousand more. 


360 A HISTORY OF THE [1814. 

up before the throne, that the olive-branch of peace 
might supplant the bloody flag of war. 

But the time was not yet. The war still raged 
this year with more violence than ever. And per- 
haps party politics, particularly in the eastern section 
of our country, never ran higher than they did about 
this time. Indeed, many feared that a severance of 
our happy union would result from this feverish ex- 
citement. Yet the God of our fathers would not 
have it so. Just as this storm was ready to burst 
upon our heads, he who " rides upon the stormy sky, 
and calms the roaring seas," appeared to hush the 
contending elements, and to bid the hostile forces cease 
their bloody strife. 

In the mean time, the disastrous effects of these 
things began to be more sensibly felt on the interests 
of true religion. Although those who were deeply 
devoted to God held on their way, and poured out 
their desires to God for the return of peace and the 
prosperity of the cause of Christ, yet many, lured by 
the glare of military glory, or seized with a spirit of 
revenge for the merciless warfare waged by the hos- 
tile Indians on defenceless women and children, or 
fired with a zeal to vindicate their country's rights 
against the invasions of their foes, in many instances, 
having lost the fervor of their piety, entered into the 
war with renewed ardor. The enemy indeed pushed 
more closely upon us now on every side. The burn- 
ing of Washington, the attack upon Baltimore, and 
the threatening attitude assumed toward the cities of 
New- York, Boston, and other places, and the inva- 
sions on our frontiers, roused a warlike feeling 
throughout the nation, and excited such a general 


spirit of resistance to these aggressions, that for a 
season the spirit of religion seemed to be absorbed 
in the feeling of patriotism, and the war-whoop took 
the place of thanksgiving and prayer to God. Add 
to this the domestic disputes arising from variant 
opinions respecting the policy of the war, which per- 
vaded all ranks of society, from the halls of legisla- 
tion to the circles around the fireside, and we shall 
see reasons enough why religion did not prosper in 
the hearts of the people as it had done heretofore. 

In the midst of these " shakings and tremblings," 
on the earth, while some were rejoicing over victories 
won by our fleets upon the ocean and the lakes, or 
boasting of the prowess exhibited by our armies upon 
the land, and others affecting to lament the superior 
skill and bravery of our enemies, there were not want- 
ing those who sighed in secret and in public for " the 
abominations which make desolate," and who exerted 
their energies for the " salvation of Israel." These, 
keeping aloof as much as possible from political 
strife, were still crying aloud to sinners to " repent 
and give glory to God," and exhorting His people to 
steadfastness in the faith. And though they did not 
always find the " Son of peace" in every house into 
which they entered, yet the peace of God rested upon 
them, as the reward of their endeavors to promote 
" peace on earth and good will to men." 

A heavy affliction this year came upon Bishop 
Asbury, and for some time his life was held in sus- 
pense. Though suffering under great bodily weak- 
ness, by the kind and unremitting attention of his 
traveling companion, John Wesley Bond, of whom 
the Bishop speaks in terms of the warmest affection 

Vol. II.— 16 

362 A HISTORY OF THE [1814. 

and approbation, he was enabled to perform his usual 
tour from one annual conference to another, until he 
arrived, in the latter part of April, at Bethel, in the 
state of New-Jersey. Here he was seized with an 
inflammatory fever, with which he suffered severely, 
and for some time his valuable life was despaired of 
by his physicians and friends. Dr. T. F. Sargent, of 
Philadelphia, attended him as his medical friend, with 
unremitting attention ; and the New-York Conference, 
then in session in the city, despatched a special mes- 
senger, the Rev. Daniel Hitt, to present to him their 
affectionate respects, and to inquire after his health ; 
they were rejoiced to hear on his return, that the 
bishop was likely to recover. Referring to this event 
in his journal, he says : — 

"We should have failed in our march through New- 
Jersey, but we have received great kindness and atten- 
tions, and have had great accommodations. I return to 
my journal after an interval of twelve weeks. I have been 
ill indeed, but medicine, nursing, and kindness, under God, 
have been so far effectual, that I have recovered strength 
enough to sit in my little covered wagon, in which they 
left me." — " I would not be loved to death, and so came 
down from my sick room, and took to the road, weak 
enough. Attentions constant, and kindness unceasing, 
have pursued me to this place. I look back upon a mar- 
tyr's life of toil and privation and pain ; and I am ready for 
a martyr's death. The purity of my intentions — my dili- 
gence in the labors to which God has been pleased to call 
me — the unknown sufferings I have endured — what are 
all these ? The merit, atonement, and righteousness of 
Christ alone make my plea. My friends in Philadelphia 
gave me a light, four-wheeled carriage ; but God and the 


Baltimore Conference made me a richer present — they 
gave me John Wesley Bond as a traveling companion. 
Has he his equal on earth for excellence of every kind as 
an aid ? I groan one minute with pain, and shout glory 
the next !" 

And where would the reader expect to find this 
sick, limping, skeleton of a man next ? Under the hands 
of a nurse, beneath the roof of some hospitable mansion, 
surrounded by kind-hearted and sympathizing friends ? 
He will be disappointed. For although after he so 
far recovered as to be lifted into his " light, four- 
wheeled carriage," the gift of his Philadelphia friends, 
he "appeared more like a walking skeleton than a Ik- 
ing man ; yet on the 23d of July, four days only after 
penning the above paragraph, we find him in Pitts 
burgh, west of the Alleghany mountains, " bending 
his way," to use his own words, " down the west side 
of the Ohio to Swickley," where he was detained two 
days ; and thence, in company with his faithful com 
panion, John Wesley Bond, he urged his way through 
rough roads, swamps, and dismal causeways, to Steu 
benville, where he remarks . — "My health is better:" — 
" I live in patience, in purity, and the perfect love of 
God." And thus he performed his western tour, 
sometimes preaching, though unable to "preside in the 
conferences, and finally returned to the Atlantic states, 
somewhat improved in health, borne up by the con- 
scious smiles of his heavenly Father, the sympa- 
thy and affectionate attentions of his numerous friends. 

But Bishop Asbury never after recovered his wont- 
ed vigor. His countenance was fallen and pale — his 
limbs trembled, and his whole frame bore marks of 
decay. Indeed, there was a something in his ap- 

364 A HISTORY OF THE [181-1 

pearance which, while it indicated a "soul full of 
glory and of God," struck the beholder with an awe 
which may be better felt than described. Not being 
able to stand while he addressed an assembly, he sat 
upon a seat prepared for that purpose, and while 
thus sitting — his whitened locks speaking the honors 
of age, his pallid countenance testifying his general 
debility, his head involuntarily dropping forward until 
the chin apparently rested upon his breast — no sooner 
did he begin to speak than his deep sonorous voice, 
uttering words in the name of his God, would arouse 
the attention of the auditory to such thoughts of eter- 
nity as overwhelmed them with breathless awe and 
silent astonishment. Though I can remember, I can- 
not describe, his appearance on those occasions. Some- 
thing, indeed, more than merely human seemed to light- 
en up his countenance when his subject inspired him 
with those " thoughts which breathe" and " words 
which burn ;" and he appeared to soar above the 
infirmities that pressed him down on ordinary occa- 
sions ; at the same time an unearthly appearance, full 
of dignity, majesty, and yet softened with the graces 
of meekness and patience, sat upon his visage and 
played through the wrinkles of his cheeks. 

Yet in the midst of all these weaknesses he 
journeyed from place to place, saying, " God is with 
me in all my feebleness" — " My spiritual conso- 
lations flow from God in great abundance — my soul 
rejoices exceedingly in God." Happy he who can 
thus testify to the goodness of God to him personally, 
while trembling under the infirmities of age, disease, 
care, and labor. 

Among those who had taken their departure to 


another world this year, was the Rev. Philip W. 
Otterbein, the German minister who had assisted in 
the consecration of Mr. Asbury to the office of a 
bishop, and with whom he ever after held an inti- 
mate, Christian, and ministerial fellowship. Though 
not formally attached to the Methodists, yet as he 
always favored their cause, invited them to his pul- 
pit, and reciprocated with them in acts of brotherly 
love, it seems proper that some notice should be taken 
of him in this place. 

The following, though it includes an account of 
several others besides Mr. Otterbein, yet as it contains 
interesting information, and would suffer from an 
abridgment, is given as I find it in the Methodist 
Magazine, vol. vi., pp. 210, 249. It was furnished 
at the special request of Bishop Asbury, some time be- 
fore his death, by his friend, F. Hollingsworth, who 
transcribed the bishop's journal, and prepared it for 
the press. It is as follows : — 

" Jacob Boehm, the great grandfather of one of the 
distinguished subjects of the following notices, was of a 
respectable family in Switzerland ; and, as is presumed, a 
member of the German Presbyterian Church. His son 
Jacob was put to a trade ; and after faithfully serving out 
his time, he, according to the custom of his country, set 
out upon his three years' travels. In his wanderings 
through Germany he fell in with the Pietists ; a people in 
their faith, discipline, and worship, resembling, in a good 
degree, the Methodists, but more closely the societies and 
congregations formed by William Otterbein and Martin 
Boehm. Upon our traveler's return to the parental roof 
he talked in a style that neither his father nor the parson 
could comprehend ; they were natural men, and under- 


366 A HIST0RV OF THE fl814. 

stood not the things of God. His evangelical conversa- 
tion, mingled, most probably, with reproof of the vices and 
pharisaism of the day, brought, by necessary consequence, 
persecution upon him ; and he was sent, guarded by an 
eltler brother, to prison. He escaped, however, from his 
confinement, and sought a refuge in Germany, where he 
remained, having settled near the Rhine. He shortly after 
attached himself to the Menonists, became an honored 
elder in that church, and, we trust, died in the Lord. His 
son Jacob, the third, was also a member in the Menonist 
church. He gave an example of sobriety, temperance, 
and industry to his children and neighborhood before and 
after his emigration to Pennsylvania, in 1716 or '17 ; and 
was honored in both countries. As a professor of religion 
he lived up to the light he had ; but it was under the min- 
istry of his better instructed son, Martin Boehm, that he 
was blest with superior illumination. He died in peace 
at the family plantation, on Pecaway, Conestoga township, 
Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, aged eighty-seven years. 
The son of Jacob Boehm the third, Martin Boehm, of whom 
we desire to speak more particularly, was born in Novem- 
ber, 1725. The labors and experience of his life, as a 
professor of religion and minister of Christ, may be pretty 
justly estimated by what we learn from himself, commu- 
nicated in answers to certain questions propounded to him 
by his son Jacob, which we here transcribe : — 

' Quest. Father, when were you put into the ministry V 

' Ans. My ministerial labors began about the year 
1756. Three years afterward, by nomination of the lot, I 
received full pastoral orders.' 

' Quest. What had been your religious experience at 
that time V 

' Ans. I was sincere and strict in the religious duties 
of prayer in my family, in the congregation, and in the 
closet. I lived and- preached according to the light I had. 


I was a servant, and not a son ; nor did I know any one 
at that time who could claim the birthright by adoption 
but Nancy Keagy, my mother's sister ; she was a woman 
of great piety and singular devotion to God.' 

' Quest. By what means did you discover the nature and 
necessity of a real change of heart V 

1 Ans. By deep meditation upon the doctrines which 
1 myself preached of the fall of man, his sinful state, and 
utter helplessness, I discovered and felt the want of Christ 
within. About the year 1761, hearing of a great work of 
God in New- Virginia among the New-Lights, as they 
were called, I resolved to find the truth more fully. I 
accordingly visited those parts, and saw many gracious 
souls who could give a rational and Scriptural account of 
their experience and acceptance with God ; these assu- 
rances roused me to greater efforts to obtain the blessing. 
On my return, very large congregations assembled to hear 
the word, not only on the Sabbaths, but on week-days 
also. My zeal displeased some of my brethren in the 
ministry ; but my heart was enlarged, and I had an earnest 
travail of soul to extend the knowledge of salvation to Jew 
and Gentile. I enlarged the sphere of my labors as much 
as my situation in life would permit.' 

' Quest. Were your labors owned of the Lord in the 
awakening and conversion of souls V 

' Ans. Yes : many were brought to the knowledge 
of the truth. But it was a strange work ; and some of the 
Menonist meeting-houses were closed against me. Never- 
theless, I was received in other places. I now preached 
the gospel spiritually and powerfully. Some years after- 
ward I was excommunicated from the Menonist Church on 
a charge, truly enough advanced, of holding fellowship 
with other societies of a different language. I had invited 
the Menonites to my house, and they soon formed the so- 
ciety in the neighborhood which exists to this day : my 


368 A HISTORY OF THE [1814 

beloved wife Eve, my children, and my cousin Keagv's 
family, were among the first of its members. For myself, 
I felt my heart more greatly enlarged toward all religious 
persons and to all denominations of Christians. Upward of 
thirty years ago I became acquainted with my greatly be- 
loved brother, William Otterbein, and several other minis- 
ters, who about this time had been ejected from their 
churches, as I had been from mine, because of their zeal, 
which was looked upon as an irregularity. We held many 
and large meeting's in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New- 
Virginia, which generally lasted three days : at these 
meetings hundreds were made the subjects of penitence 
and pardon. Being convinced of the necessity of order 
and discipline in the church of God, and having no wish 
to be at the head of a separate body, I advised serious per- 
sons to join the Methodists, whose doctrine, discipline, and 
zeal suited, as I thought, an unlearned, sincere, and simple- 
hearted people. Several of the ministers with whom I la- 
bored, continued to meet in a conference of the German 
United Brethren ; but we felt the difficulties arising from 
the want of that which the Methodists possessed. Age 
having overtaken me, with some of its accompanying in- 
firmities, I could not travel as I had formerly done. In 
1802 I enrolled my name on a Methodist class-book, and 
I have found great comfort in meeting with my brethren. 
I can truly say my last days are my best days. My be- 
loved Eve is traveling with me the same road Zionward ; 
my children, and most of my grand-children, are made 
the happy partakers of the same grace. I am, this 12th 
of April, 1811, in my eighty-sixth year. Through the 
boundless goodness of my God, I am still able to visit the 
sick, and occasionally, to preach in the neighborhood : to 
his name be all the glory in Christ Jesus !' 

" Martin Boehm died on the 23d of March, 1812. His 
death was thought to have been hastened by an imprudent 


change of dress. Bishop Asbury, in a sermon preached 
upon the occasion of the death of his long-known and 
long-loved friend, improved the opportunity by mentioning 
some further particulars of him, of his friends, and of the 
work of God in which he and they had labored. His 
observations are, with the alteration and substitution of a 
few sentences and words, as follow : — ' Martin Boehm had 
frequent and severe conflicts in his own mind, produced 
by the necessity he felt himself under of offending his 
Menonist brethren by the zeal and doctrines of his minis- 
try : some he gained ; but most of them opposed him. He 
had difficulties also with his United Brethren. It was late 
in -life that he joined the Methodists, to whom, long be- 
fore, his wife and children had attached themselves : the 
head of the house had two societies to pass through to ar- 
rive at the Methodists, and his meek and quiet spirit kept 
him back. Honest and unsuspecting, he had not a strange 
face for strange people. He did not make the gospel a 
charge to any one ; his reward was souls and glory. His 
conversation was in heaven. Plain in dress and manners, 
when age had stamped its impress of reverence upon him, 
he filled the mind with the noble idea of a patriarch. At 
the head of a family, a father, a neighbor, a friend, a com- 
panion, there was one prominent feature of his character 
which distinguished him from most men ; — it was good- 
ness ; you felt that he was good. His mind was strong 
and well stored with the learning necessary for one whose 
aim is to preach Christ with apostolic zeal and simplicity. 
The virtue of hospitality was practised by his family as a 
matter of course ; and in following the impulse of their 
own generous natures, the members of his household 
obeyed the oft-repeated charge of their head to open his 
doors to the houseless, that the weary might be solaced 
and the hungry fed. And what a family was here pre- 
sented to an observant visiter ! Here was order, quiet, 

16* 2 

370 A HISTORY' OF THE [1814 

occupation. The father, if not absent on a journey of 
five hundred miles in cold, hunger, privations, and labor, 
proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation to his dispersed 
German brethren, might, by his conduct under his own 
roof, explain to a careful looker-on the secret of a parent's 
success in rearing a family to the duties of piety, to the 
diligent and useful occupation of time, and to the uninter- 
rupted exhibition of reflected and reciprocated love, esteem, 
and kindness in word and deed. If it is true, as is gene- 
rally believed, that the mother does much toward forming 
the character of their children, it will be readily allowed 
that Martin Boehm had an able help-mate in his pious 
wife. The offspring of this noble pair have done them 
honor : — the son Jacob, immediately upon his marriage, 
took on himself the management of the farm, that his ex- 
cellent fattier might, ' without carefulness,' extend his la- 
bors more far and wide. A younger son, Henry, is a 
useful minister in the Methodist connection, having the 
advantage of being able to preach in English and German. 
We are willing to hope that the children of Martin Boehm, 
and his children's children to the third and fourth and 
latest generations, will have cause to thank God that his 
house, for fifty years, has been a house for the welcome 
reception of gospel ministers, and one in which the wor- 
ship of God has been uninterruptedly preserved and prac- 
tised ! O ye children and grandchildren ! O, rising gene- 
ration, who have so often heard the prayers of this man 
of God in the houses of your fathers ! O, ye Germans, to 
whom he has long preached the word of truth, Martin 
Boehm being dead yet speaketh ! — hear his voice from 
the grave, exhorting you to repent, to believe, and to obey.' 
" But our beloved brother, who has gone to his high re- 
ward, was not the only laborer in the vineyard. Will it 
be hazarding too much to say that in Pennsylvania, Ma- 
ryland, and Virginia, there were one hundred preachers and 


twenty thousand people in the communion of the United 
Brethren ? Many of these faithful men have gone to 
glory ; and many are yet alive to preach to congregated 
thousands. Pre-eminent among these is William Otter- 
bein, who assisted in the ordination which set apart your 
speaker to the superintendency of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church. William Otterbein was regularly ordained 
to the ministry in the German Presbyterian Church. He 
is one of the best scholars and the greatest divines in 
America. Why then is he not where he began 1 He was 
irregular. Alas, for us ; the zealous are necessarily so to 
those whose cry has been, put me into the priests' office, 
that I may eat a morsel of bread. Ostervald has observed, 
' Hell is paved with the skulls of unfaithful ministers.' 
Such was not Boehm. Such is not Otterbein ; and now, 
his sun of life is setting in brightness : behold the saint 
of God leaning upon his staff, waiting for the chariots of 
Israel ! 

"I pause here to indulge in reflections upon the past. 
Why was the German reformation in the middle states, 
that sprang up with Boehm, Otterbein, and their helpers, 
not more perfect ? Was money, was labor made a con- 
sideration with these primitive men 1 No ; they wanted 
not the one, and heeded not the other. They all had had 
church membership, as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Mora- 
vians, Dunkers, Menonists. The spiritual men of these 
societies generally united with the reformers ; but they 
brought along with them the formalities, superstitions, and 
peculiar opinions of religious education. There was no 
master-spirit to rise up and organize and lead them. Some 
of the ministers located, and only added to their charge 
partial traveling labors ; and all were independent. It re- 
mains to be proved whether a reformation, in any country, 
or under any circumstances, can be perpetuated without 
a well-directed itinerancy. But these faithful men of God 



were not the less zealous in declaring the truth because 
they failed to erect a church government. This was 
wished for by many ; and among the first, perhaps, to dis- 
cover the necessity of discipline and order, was Benedict 
Swoape of Pipe-creek, Frederick county : he became Ot- 
terbein's prompter as early as 1772, and called upon him 
to translate the general rules of the Methodists, and ex- 
plain to their German brethren, wandering as sheep with- 
out a shepherd, their nature, design, and efficacy. Otter- 
bein, one of the wisest and best of men, could only ap- 
prove : when urged to put himself forward as a leader, 
his great modesty and diffidence of himself forbade his 
acceptance of so high a trust. His journeys, neverthe- 
less, were long, his visits frequent, and his labors constant; 
so that, after he came to Baltimore, he might be called a 
traveling preacher, until age and infirmities compelled him 
to be still. Surely I should not forget his helpers. I may 
mention once more Benedict Swoape : he removed to 
Kentucky, and preached until near his death at eighty 
years of age. There was the brother-in-law of Otterbein, 
and his great friend, Doctor Hendel, a man of talents, let- 
tered and pious, and a great preacher. Hendel was first 
stationed, as a German Presbyterian minister, in Tulpa- 
hocking and Lancaster, and his last labors were in Phila- 
delphia, where, late in life, he fell a victim to the yellow 
fever of 1798. Wagner, a pupil of Otterbein's, was sta- 
tioned in Little-York, Pennsylvania, and permanently, 
thereafter, in Fredericktown, Maryland : he was, we have 
reason to hope, a good and useful servant of his Lord. 
Henry Widener, first, a great sinner, and afterward a great 
saint, was a native of Switzerland ; as is usual with his 
educated countrymen, he spoke in German and French 
with equal fluency. His preaching was acceptable and 
useful ; he had for the companion of his itinerant labors, 
John Hagerty ; and the gospel of our Lord was preached 


by these men in German and English to thousands be- 
tween the north and south branches of the Potomac. Wi- 
dener died in peace near Baltimore. Hagerty is still 
with us. George Adam Gedding, a native of Germany, 
has been a most acceptable man in the work : he still 
lives near Sharpesburg, in Maryland. Christian New- 
comer, near Hagerstown in Maryland, has labored and 
traveled many years. His heart's desire has always been 
to effect a union between his German brethren and the 
Methodists. Are there many that fear God who have 
passed by his house and have not heard of or witnessed 
the piety and hospitality of these Newcomers ? Worthy 
people ! 

" I will not forget Abraham Traxall, now in the west of 
Pennsylvania : a most acceptable preacher of method and 
energy. Henry and Christian Crumb, twin-brothers born, 
and twin-souls in zeal and experience : these were holy, 
good men, and members of both societies. John Hersay, 
formerly a Menonist ; an Israelite : he is gone to rest. 
Abraham and Christian Hersay ; occasional itinerants, 
good men ; busy and zealous. David Snyder possessing 
gifts to make himself useful. Neisch Wanger, a good 
man and good preacher. Most of these men were natives 
of Pennsylvania. May I name Leonard Harburgh, once 
famous, gifted, laborious, useful ? He is now only a great 
mechanic, alas ! The flame of German zeal has moved 
westward with emigration. In Ohio we have Andrew 
Teller, and Benedem, men of God, intrusted with a weighty 
charge, subjecting them to great labors. But our German 
lathers have lost many of their spiritual children. Some 
have led away disciples after them, and established inde- 
pendent churches ; some have returned whence they or 
their fathers came ; and some have joined the Dutch Bap- 
tists. Our German reformers have left no journal or re- 
cord, that I have seen or heard of by which we might 



learn the extent of their labors ; but from Tennessee, 
where the excellent Baker labored and died, through Vir- 
ginia and Maryland into Pennsylvania, as far eastward as 
Buck's and Berk's counties, the effects of their ministry 
were happily seen and felt. We feel ourselves at liberty 
to believe that these German heralds of grace congregated 
one hundred thousand souls ; that they have had twenty 
thousand in fellowship and communion, and one hundred 
zealous and acceptable preachers. 

" The following paper was found in the hand-writing 
of Bishop Asbury, and, as it is believed, ol the Rev. Wm. 
Otterbein : — 

' To the Rev. William Otterbein. 
Sir, — Where were you born V 

Ans. In Nassau, Dillenburg, in Germany. 

Quest. How many years had you lived in your native 

Ans. Twenty-six years. 

Quest. How many years have you resided in America? 

Ans. Sixty years, come next August 

Quest. Where were you educated ? 

Ans. In Herborn ; in an academy. 

Quest. What languages and sciences were you taught ? 

Ans. Latin, Greek, Hebrew, philosophy, and divinity. 

Quest. In what order were you set apart for the min- 
istry ? 

Ans. The Presbyterian form and order. 

Quest. What ministers assisted in your ordination ? 

Ans. Shrim and Klinghoaffer. 

Quest. Where have you had charge of congregations 
in America ? 

Ans. First in Lancaster ; in Tulpahocking, in Frede- 
ricktown in Maryland, in Little-York in Pennsylvania, 
and in Baltimore. 

Quest. In what parts of the United States have you 


frequently traveled through, in the prosecution of your 
ministerial labors ? 

Ans. In Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. 

Quest. How many years of your life, since you 
came to this country, were you in a great measure an 
itinerant ? 

Ans. The chief of the time since my coming to this 
continent, but more largely since coming to Baltimore. 

Quest. By what means were you brought to the gospei 
knowledge of God and our Saviour ? 

Ans. By degrees was I brought to the knowledge of 
the truth while in Lancaster. 

'Quest. Have you an unshaken confidence in God 
through Christ of your justification, sanctification, and sure 
hope of glorification ? 

Ans. The Lord has been good to me ; and no doubt 
remains in my mind but he will be good ; and I can now 
praise him for the hope of a better life. 

Quest. Have you ever kept any account of the seals to 
your ministry ? 

Ans. None. 

Quest. Have you ever taken an account of the members 
in the societies of the United German Brethren ? 

Ans. Only what are in Baltimore. 

Quest. Have you taken any account of the brethren in- 
troduced into the ministry immediately by yourself, and 
sent out by you ? Can you give the names of the living 
and the dead ? 

Ans. Henry Widener, Henry Becker, Simon Herre, in 
Virginia ; these are gone to their reward. Newcomer 
can give the names of the living. 

Quest. What ministerial brethren who have been your 
helpers, can you speak of with pleasure, and whose names 
are precious ? 

Ans. Guedick, Widener, Herre. Newcomer, and others, 


376 A HISTORY OF THE [1814. 

Quest. What is your mind concerning John Wesley, 
and the order of Methodists in America 1 

Ans. I think highly of John Wesley. I think well of 
the Methodists in America. 

Quest. What are your views of the present state of the 
church of Christ in Europe and America, and of prophecy ? 

Ans. In continental Europe the church has lost, in a 
great degree, the light of truth. In England and America 
the light still shines. Prophecy is hastening to its accom- 

Quest. Will you give any commandment concerning 
your bones, and the memoirs of your life ? your children 
in Christ will not suffer you to die unnoticed.' 

No answer to this last question." 

In his journal the bishop makes the following re- 
marks respecting Mr. Otterbein : — 

" By request I discoursed on the character of the angel 
of the Church of Philadelphia, in allusion to P. W. Otter- 
bein — the holy, the great Otterbein — whose funeral dis- 
course it was intended to be. Solemnity marked the 
silent meeting in the German Church, where were assem- 
bled the members of our conference and many of the 
clergy of the city. Forty years have I known the retiring 
modesty of this man of God — towering majestic above his 
fellows in learning, wisdom, and grace, yet seeking to be 
known only of God and the people of God. He had been 
sixty years a minister, fifty years a converted one." 

This year also, the Church, in both hemispheres, 
was called to mourn over the death of Dr. Coke. 
Having been released in 1808, from his obligations 
to the American conference, he devoted himself 
thenceforward to the cause of God in Europe, with 
his accustomed zeal and fervor, but more especially 


to the cause of missions. While engaged in this 
work his attention was directed to the deplorable state 
of things in British India. The researches of Bu- 
chanan, and the accounts of others who had traveled 
in that country, had awakened a zeal in the hearts of 
British Christians for the salvation of the idolaters of 
Asia, which now burned with intense ardor in the 
breast of Dr. Coke, and he determined, if Providence 
favored his design, to establish a mission for their 
benefit. Having made the necessary preparations, in 
company with seven others whom he had selected to 
accompany him as assistant missionaries, on the 30th 
of December, 1813, he took an affectionate leave of 
his friends at Portsmouth, and on the 1st of January, 
1814, they all proceeded down tJie English Channel, 
and slowly entered upon that voyage which for ever 
separated Dr. Coke from the land of his nativity and 
the scene of his active labors. 

On the morning of the 3d day of May, 1814, in 
latitude two degrees twenty minutes south, and Jongi- 
tude fifty-nine degrees twenty-nine minutes east from 
London, when the servant went, according to his or- 
ders, to call Dr. Coke from his slumbers, on opening 
the door of his cabin, he found, to his utter amaze- 
ment, the body of the doctor stretched lifeless upon 
the floor ! The intelligence of this mournful event be- 
ing communicated first to the captain of the ship, and 
then, at his request, to the missionaries, produced, as 
might be expected, a sensation of sorrow not easily 
described. It was supposed by the medical gentle- 
men who, at the request of the missionaries, made a 
post mortem examination, that he died of a fit of apo- 
plexy. As his body was stiff and cold when it was 

378 A HISTORY OF THE [1814. 

discovered, at about half past five o'clock in the morn 
ing, and was found stretched upon the floor, it was 
concluded that, feeling unwell in the night, he had 
arisen from his bed to obtain some medicine, when 
he fell at about midnight to rise no more until the 
resurrection of the just and unjust. 

Finding it impracticable to preserve the corpse in 
that hot climate to be brought back to England, ac- 
cording to his request in his will, to be deposited by 
the side of his two wives whom he had buried in Bre- 
con, his native town in Wales, at about half past five 
o'clock, P. M., of the same day, the dead body was 
committed to the deep with suitable religious ceremo- 
nies, the performance of which, under these solemn 
circumstances, produced very serious impressions on 
all present. 

Thus ended the life and labors of Thomas Coke, 
LL.D., and first bishop of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. And 
while we record his death, we cannot well forget the 
many obligations we, as a Church, are under to him 
for his most zealous and disinterested labors among us 
in the infancy of our Church, and the consequent fee- 
bleness in which we were when he first visited our Zion. 

It is not, however, my intention to attempt a por- 
traiture of his character, nor to enumerate the instances 
of his labors and sacrifices. This has been amply 
and ably done by his biographer, to whom the reader 
is referred for a full account of the life, education, con- 
version, and ministerial labors, both as a preacher and 
writer, of Dr. Coke. And the preceding pages will 
show the high estimation in which he was held on 
both sides of the Atlantic, the relation he sustained 


to us, the labors he performed and the lively interest 
he manifested in the welfare of American Methodism. 
It is due, nevertheless, to him and to the cause he 
contributed so materially to aid in this country, to say, 
that he crossed the Atlantic no less than eighteen 
times, at his own expense, to serve his American bre- 
thren — that while here he exerted a powerful and 
salutary influence in favor of pure religion, by his 
preaching and the weight of his character — and that, 
though he might, on one or two occasions, have 
incautiously committed himself and his brethren 
to those who watched his movements not with the 
most friendly eye, yet he deserves and receives the 
thankful and affectionate remembrance of those who 
have been benefitted by his labors, and know how to 
appreciate his excellences. 

And if at any time he was not treated, in his inter- 
course with his American brethren, with that respect- 
ful attention which was due to his character — as was 
doubtless the case — he manifested the spirit of his 
Master and Saviour, in throwing overall such instances 
of human frailty the mantle of forgiveness and oblivion, 
neither abating the ardor of his love nor slackening 
the speed of his diligence to do them good, by serv- 
ing them so long as his services were required. And 
if his spirit, disenthralled from its cumbersome house 
of clay, is now permitted to look from its mansion 
above, over the wide space covered by the ministry 
and Church he helped to organize and set in motion, 
he no doubt derives one source of his joy from the 
recollection of what he suffered and did in maturing 
and executing the plans which have resulted in the 
redemption and salvation of so many souls, and 


380 A HISTORY OF THE [1814. 

looking up to the holy throne, he unites with all the 
redeemed from among men, in ascribing the honor of 
all this to God and the Lamb. 

At the session of the New- York conference in 
1815, which assembled that year in the city of Al- 
bany on the 12th day of May, the melancholy news 
of Dr. Coke's sudden death had just reached our 
shores through the public papers, and, at the request 
of the conference, Bishop Asbury preached his fune- 
ral discourse. In this discourse the bishop bore am- 
ple testimony to the exalted character, the Christian 
and ministerial virtues, of his deceased friend and col- 
league. The following are some of his remarks, as 
I find them recorded in his journal : — 

" He was of the third branch of the Oxonian Me- 
thodists — of blessed mind and soul — a gentleman, a 
scholar, and a bishop to us — as a minister of Christ, 
in zeal, in labors, and in services, the greatest man of 
the last century." 

Locations still continued to weaken the ranks of 
the itinerancy by forcing us to supply the circuits 
with young and inexperienced men, who, though they 
were zealous and active, were necessarily deficient 
in that sound practical wisdom which is desirable in 
the ministry, more especially for the judicious adminis- 
tration of discipline. No less than sixty-five were 
located this year, namely, in the Ohio conference nine, 
the Tennessee five, the South Carolina twelve, the 
Virginia fifteen, the Baltimore five, the Philadelphia 
seven, New-York one,* New-England eight, and Gene- 

* For a few years past, some of the older members of the 
New- York conference, deprecating the weakening effects of 
these numerous locations, determined to hold on to the itine- 


see three. There were twenty returned on the su- 
pernumerary list, and twenty-two on the superannu- 
ated, and one was expelled. Ralph Lotspeich, Le- 
roy Merritt, William Mills, Peter Moriarty, Francis 
Ward, Abner Clark, and Arming Owen, having ful- 
filled their ministry with fidelity, had taken their 
departure from the field of labor to the land of rest. 

Numbers in the Church. 

Whites. Colored. Total. Preachers. 

This year 168,698 42,431 211,129 687 
Last year 171,448 42,859 214,307 678 

Decrease 2,750 428 3,178 In. 9 

This unusual decrease shows that the effects 
of the war, as has been remarked above, had been un- 
friendly to the interests of religion. 

18 15. At this time the principal labor of the superin- 
tendency devolved on Bishop M'Kendree, the wisdom 
of whose administration was generally appreciated by 
both the ministry and membership ; for Bishop As- 
bury, though still moving around among the churches, 
was too feeble to render much assistance in the active 
business of the conferences. He, however, met his 
colleague at the conferences, fixed the stations of the 
preachers, preached occasionally, and for a short season 
at a time took his seat in the conferences. Here he 
was uniformly greeted with a hearty welcome, and 
venerated as the patriarch of the American Methodist 
Episcopal Church. 

After recording the incidents of his travels through 

rancy themselves, whatever the sacrifice might he, and indues 
as many others as possible to follow their example. 


382 A HISTORY OF THE [1815. 

the several states, preaching often, distributing Testa- 
ments to the poor, visiting families and praying with 
them, as well as soliciting pecuniary aid for the poorer 
preachers by presenting to his friends his " mite sub- 
scription," he gives the following account of his inter 
view with Bishop M'Kendree : — 

" We had a long and earnest talk about the affairs of 
our Church, and my future prospects. I told him my 
opinion was, that the western part of the empire would be 
the glory of America for the poor and the pious — that it 
ought to be marked out for five conferences, to wit, Ohio, 
Kentucky, Holston, Mississippi, and Missouri — in doing 
which, as well as I was able, I traced out lines and bound- 
aries. I told my colleague, that having passed the first 
allotted period, (seventy years,) and being, as he knew, out 
of health, it could not be expected that I could visit the 
extremities every year, sitting in eight, it might be twelve 
conferences, and traveling six thousand miles in eight 
months. If I was able still to keep up with the conferences, 
I could not be expected to preside in more than every 
other one. As to the stations, I should never exhibit a 
plan unfinished, but still get all the information in my 
power, so as to enable me to make it perfect, like the 
painter who touches and retouches until all parts of the 
picture are pleasing. The plan I might be laboring on 
would always be submitted to such eyes as ought to see it ; 
and the measure I meted to others I should expect to 

How fallacious often is hope ! This conversation, 
though it exhibits a mind ever intent on the best in- 
terests of the Church, in thus maturing plans for its 
future prosperity, was like the flickering light of an 
expiring lamp, which, before it is entirely extinguish- 


ed, flares up suddenly and then goes out for ever. 
Such indeed was the general debility of Bishop As- 
bury that he had to be lifted in and out of his carriage, 
and if he visited the conference room at all, it was 
only to astonish his friends with the sudden corrusca- 
tions of light which beamed from a mind pent up in 
a body trembling under the ravages of disease and 
the infirmities of age. But he had been so long ac- 
customed to constant traveling and preaching, that this 
habitual exercise seemed essential to life and comfort, 
and no doubt contributed to lengthen his days, which 
were now nevertheless speedily drawing to their 

The war, which had now raged with various de- 
grees of violence and success, for about three years, 
was near its termination. Though the battle of New- 
Orleans was fought on the 8th of January, 1815, and 
several naval victories were won upon the ocean after 
that event, yet the articles of peace were signed by 
the British and American commissioners at Ghent on 
the 24th of December, by which an end was soon 
put to this bloody struggle, greatly to the joy of the 
friends of human happiness on both sides of the At- 
lantic, and much more to those along the lines of 
Canada and the United States, where so much human 
suffering had been realized. 

But though such places had severely felt the delete- 
rious effects of this scourge of humanity, especially on 
the interests of true religion, yet in places not so much 
exposed to the ravages of war the work of God had 
prospered during the past year. Since, however, the 
commencement of hostilities, there had been a check 
put upon the extension of the work among the people 


384 A HISTORY OF THE [1815. 

on the frontiers, as well as upon the advancement of 
the settlements themselves. The Indian tribes had 
been generally enlisted on one side or the other of the 
belligerents, had invaded each other's territories, and 
thus kept the exterior settlements in a continual state 
of fear and alarm, of excitement and irritation — a 
state of things exceedingly unfriendly to religious en 
joyment and effort. It will therefore be seen that, 
after deducting for withdrawings, expulsions, and 
deaths, which is always done in taking the number 
of Church members, the increase this year was very 
small, and hence it may be presumed that the spirit 
of piety was rather low throughout our borders gene- 

Sixty-seven were located, thirteen were returned 
supernumerary, twenty-two superannuated, one expel- 
led, and four had died. Two of the last, namely, 
John M'Claskey and Michael Coate, had been long 
and favorably known to the Church, highly distin 
guished for their deep piety, indefatigable and useful 
labors ; and in their death they gave a lively testi- 
mony to the power of religion to sustain them in their 
passage to immortality and eternal life. Though the 
race of the others, Lewis Hobbs and Williatn S. 
Fisher, was comparatively short, yet it was brilliant, 
and ended as it began, in the grace of God, and in 
the hope of an eternal reward. 

This year 
Last year 




in the Church. 

Colored. Total. 

43,187 211,165 
42,431 211,129 





In. 756 ' 36 



1816. Peace being restored to- the country, busi- 
ness began to resume its usual channels, and the peo- 
ple to attend to their concerns with their wonted 
cheerfulness and diligence, and we find this year Up- 
per and Lower Canada, which" had been insulated dur- 
ing the war, was included among the districts of the 
Genesee conference, though Quebec was supplied, at 
the request of the people in that place, by the mission 
committee in London. But though this calm appear- 
ed in the civil atmosphere, the effects of the late 
storms of war and bloodshed were still visible along 
the highways and fields in which God's servants were 
calle'd to labor. The southwestern frontiers were in 
some places disturbed by Indian depredations, and in 
other parts of the country the exasperations of spirit 
which had been excited by conflicting opinions re- 
specting the policy of the late war, and the manner in 
which it was waged, were not yet wholly allayed, and 
hence the spirit of piety had not yet recovered its 
wonted healthy tone and vigorous action ; and the 
manner in which the rejoicings and thanksgivings for 
the return of peace were held, in many instances, 
served rather to feed than to extinguish the flame of 
political strife and animosity, as well as to call forth 
and strengthen the warlike propensities of the human 
heart. In some places, however, a spirit of devout 
gratitude to the Author of all good was cherished in 
the sanctuary, where the people of God prostrated 
themselves before His throne, and after lifting their 
hearts to Him in fervent acknowledgments of praise 
and thanksgiving for the restoration of peace and its 
attendant blessings, were entertained from the pulpit 
with a rehearsal of his loving-kindness to the nation 

Vol. II.— 17 

386 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

and to the Church. These were seasons of refresh- 
ing from the presence of the Lord, and tended to en- 
large the soul with enlightened views of the divine 
character and goodness, to revive and nourish the 
spirit of piety, and to unite the feeling of true patriot- 
ism with a sense of pious gratitude. 

But, though the superintendents, as far as they 
were able, attended to their duties in the general 
work, and the preachers watched over their respective 
flocks with their wonted diligence and zeal, there were 
no special revivals of the work of God, and hence the 
increase of numbers was small, notwithstanding the 
members in Canada were this year included in the 

We have already seen that Bishop Asbury's de- 
clining'health prevented him from performing much 
active service, and that consequently the duties of 
the superintendency devolved chiefly on Bishop 
M'Kendree. He accordingly moved around among the 
churches, attended the northern conferences alone, and 
by his example of diligence, and his advice in the 
councils of the Church, endeavored to diffuse the 
spirit of piety and active zeal throughout our borders. 
And all things considered, we had reason for thank- 
fulness to God that he had not forsaken his Church 
in the wilderness. 

Sixty-three were located this year, eight returned 
supernumerary, thirty-two superannuated, two were ex- 
pelled, and one had withdrawn. 

The following had exchanged the field of labor for 
the land of rest : — 

Learner Blackman, who embraced religion in his 
youth, and in 1800 entered the traveling ministry. 


After making full proof of his ministry in various cir- 
cuits in the older conferences, in 1805, at the request 
of the bishops, he followed in the track of Tobias 
Gibson into the Mississippi Territory, and was sta- 
tioned on the Natchez circuit. In performing this 
journey through the wilderness, in which he was 
compelled to encamp in the woods ten or eleven 
nights, he was called to endure hardships which the 
Methodist preachers of those days felt more sensibly 
than it is easy adequately to describe. But neither 
the savages of the wilderness, the lonely deserts 
through' which they were obliged to pass to reach 
their destined post, nor the labors to be performed or 
privations to be endured, could prevent such souls as 
that which actuated Blackman from pressing for- 
ward in the path of duty. 

On his arrival in Natchez, though he found a few 
who had been brought to God by the instrumentality 
of his eminent predecessor, Tobias Gibson, yet Me- 
thodism was in its infancy, and he had to contend 
with a variety of hinderances which were thrown in 
his way by the lukewarmness of some, the entire in- 
difference of others, and the open hostility of not a few. 

He continued west of the mountains, laboring with 
pious zeal and indefatigable industry, filling, for a 
number of years, the office of presiding elder, until 
the day of his death. This mournful event heighten- 
ed the sorrow of his friends by the manner in which 
it occurred. He and his consort were returning from a 
visit on the west side of the Ohio river, and while re- 
crossing that river in a ferry-boat, their horses became 
frightened, and leaping out threw him into the river 
and he was drowned. 

388 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

His eulogy is written in the affections of the peo- 
ple who had been blessed under his ministry. And 
though his death was sudden, and brought about in 
circumstances which forbade his friends from catching 
his dying words, yet the purity of his life, the faithful- 
ness of his preaching, and the diligence with which 
he pursued his calling as an overseer of the flock of 
Christ, speak more emphatically than mere words 
could do, in favor of his preparedness to meet his 
Judge, in the hope of acceptance through the blood 
and righteousness of Jesus Christ. 

Richmond Nolley was another of those soldiers of 
Jesus Christ who won laurels of celestial glory in 
the western wilds. He entered the ranks of the 
itinerancy in 1808, and after traveling some circuits 
in the south, by which he gave evidence of his will- 
ingness to " endure hardness as a good soldier of 
Christ," he went on a mission to Tombigbee, in the 
territory of Alabama. Here he devoted two years 
of hard labor, filling his appointments with fidelity, 
though often walking on foot with his saddlebags 
upon his shoulders, besides instructing the people, 
black as well as white, from house to house. 

Being in this country at the commencement of the 
hostilities between the United States and Great Britain, 
he had to contend with difficulties that arose from the 
movements of hostile Indians, which compelled the 
people in that new country to screen themselves from 
their fury in temporary forts. He, however, would 
not relax his labors, but went fearlessly from fort to 
fort, warning and instructing the people, often hazard- 
ing his life, and wearing out a constitution naturally 


weak, for the sake of communicating spiritual benefit 
to immortal beings. 

From this place he was removed, in 1814, to Atta- 
kapas circuit, in Louisiana. Here he was exposed 
to all the perils and hardships which are incident to 
such a new country, with bad roads, deep waters to 
cross, often scanty fare, flies and moschetoes in the 
midst of the wilderness, together with the intense heat 
of the summer, and the mud and mire of the winter 
months. None of these things, however, disheartened 
him. He went forward with firmness and patience, 
seeking for the " lost sheep of the house of Israel." 

"But his race was short, and his death sudden and 
sorrowful to his surviving friends. On the 24th of 
November, the weather being wet and cold, after hav- 
ing passed the previous day through a vast and dreary 
swamp, and over the Mississippi, he set off to visit 
some distant appointments. On the evening of that 
day he lodged with a friendly family ; the next morn- 
ing he pushed forward in a direction uninhabited by 
any white person, and employed an Indian to assist 
him in passing a creek, which he was apprehensive 
would be so swollen as to be difficult to ford. On 
arriving here, his expectations were realized ; but he 
concluded to make the experiment to ford the stream. 
Leaving his saddle-bags, valise, and some books with 
his Indian guide, he mounted his horse and attempted 
to ride through the creek. The current bore his 
horse down below the usual place of landing, so that 
when they arrived on the other side, the bank was so 
precipitous that the horse could not ascend it, and in 
the struggle he and his horse were separated, the 
horse swimming back to the shore he had left, and 


390 A HISTORY or THE tl816 

brother Nolley landing on the opposite bank. He then 
walked on with a view to reach the first house, which 
was about two miles distant. The wet and cold, 
however, so prostrated his physical strength that he 
was able to proceed only about one mile, where he 
was found next morning a lifeless corpse ! It seems, 
from appearances, that, becoming conscious of his 
inability to proceed farther, he kneeled down and 
commended his spirit to God ; and here in the woods 
he was found with his eyes neatly closed, his left 
hand on his breast, his right hand fallen off a little, 
Avhile his immortal spirit had, beyond all doubt, 
ascended to its mansion above. 

The name of Richmond Nolley lives in the recol- 
lection of the people in Alabama and Louisiana, and 
his ministerial and Christian virtues are embalmed in 
their affections. He fell a martyr to his work in the 
eighth year of his ministry, and has left behind him a 
testimony of his fidelity in the fruit of his sacrifices 
and labors. 

Zachariali Witten, Joel Arrington, Edwin John- 
son, George Askin, Nathan Lodge, and James Quail, 
had also taken their departure to another world, ho- 
nored and beloved in their life as ministers of Christ, 
and lamented in their death by those who had been 
benefitted by their labors, and by their more intimate 

But a greater than either had fallen. The death- 
knell had sounded over the coffin of our American 
patriarch, and assured us that our Asbury was no more ! 

And as this was the year in which Bishop Asbury 
closed his life and labors, I shall, as seems most fit, 
close the present volume with a brief account of the 


closing days of that great and good man, together 
with some remarks on his general character and man- 
ner of life. 

We have already seen that disease was making 
fearful inroads upon a constitution which had been shat- 
tered by frequent attacks of sickness, often induced 
from exposure to wind and weather, to hardships, 
privations, constant labor and care, and that he con- 
sequently exhibited symptoms of approaching dissolu- 
tion. After the interview with Bishop M'Kendree, 
before mentioned, he still journeyed on, attended by 
his ever faithful companion, John Wesley Bond, 
passing through the state of Ohio to Kentucky, where, 
after preaching in Lexington, he says : — ■ 

" My soul is blest with continued consolation and peace 
in all my great weakness of body and crowds of company. 
I am a debtor to the whole continent, but more especially 
to the north-east and south-west ; it is there I usually gain 
health, and generally lose it in the south and centre. I 
have visited the south thirty times in thirty-one years. I 
wish to visit Mississippi, but am resigned." 

It would appear then that even the bounds of the 
ten conferences were not a sufficiently large range to 
fill his capacious desires — he ivished still to visit Mis- 
sissippi ! But here again he found that his wishes 
must yield to the pressure of a body tottering on the 
confines of another world. Mississippi must be left 
to his sons in the gospel, while the father is forced to 
" withdraw his feet" even from the ordinary business 
of a conference, for on the 21st of this same month 
of October, after remarking that he had preached to 
the Tennessee conference, and ordained the deacons, 
he says, — 


393 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

" My eyes fail. I will resign the stations to Bishop 
M'Kendree. I will take away my feet. It is my fifty- 
fifth year of ministry, and forty-fifth of labor in America. 
My mind enjoys great peace and divine consolation. My 
health is better, which may be in part because of my being 
less deeply interested in the business of the conference. 
But whether health, life, or death, good is the will of the 
Lord. I will trust him ; yea, I will praise him. He is 
the strength of mv heart and my portion for ever. Glory ! 
glory ! glory !" Fit language for a veteran of the cross of 
Christ, just ready to receive his crown. 

In this frame of mind he passed on from place to 
place, stretching across the country from Tennessee 
into South Carolina, until, under date of Dec. 2, he 
says, " My consolations are great. I live in God 
from moment to moment ;" and then Dec. 7, which is 
the last entry in his journal, and probably the last line 
he ever wrote, he says, — 

" We met a storm and stopped at William Baker's, 

It appears, however, from the published notice of 
his death, that he persevered in his customary way, in 
his close carriage, to journey on through the country, 
until March 24, 1816, when he came to Richmond, 
Virginia, where he preached his last sermon. His 
text was Rom. ix, 28, " For he will finish his work, 
and cut it short in righteousness : because a short 
work will the Lord make upon the earth." This 
closed his pulpit work. 

So feeble was he that his friends endeavored to 

dissuade him from making this effort. He, however, 

resisted their importunities by remarking that he must 

once more deliver his testimony in that place. Thev 



therefore assisted him from his carriage — for he was 
unable either to walk or stand — to the pulpit, and 
seated him on a table which had been prepared for 
that purpose : and though his debility was such that 
he was obliged to make frequent pauses in the course 
of his sermon, yet the audience were much affected 
by the manner in which he delivered his last solemn 
message, but much more with his appearance, venera- 
ble with age, standing on the borders of eternity, pale 
and tremulous with debility, while the deep intonations 
of his commanding voice, rising with the grandeur of 
his subject, gave a solemnity to the whole scene of a 
most impressive character. 

Having thus delivered his last testimony for God, 
he was assisted from the sanctuary to his carriage, in 
which he returned to his lodgings. 

On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, he moved on 
his way, and finally came to the house of his old 
friend, Mr. George Arnold, in Spottsylvania, Virginia. 
Here the unfavorable state of the weather and his in- 
creasing debility obliged him to stop. He had, indeed, 
flattered himself with living to meet the General Con- 
ference which was to assemble in Baltimore on the 
second day of the ensuing May ; but he had approach- 
ed the termination of his journeyings in this world, 
and he humbly bowed to the decree of his heavenly 
Father in this as well as in all other things. 

Here he passed a very restless night. In the morn- 
ing, his friends, perceiving his great distress and in- 
creasing weakness, urged the propriety of calling in 
the aid of a physician. He gave them to understand 
that it would be of no use, saying, that before the 
physician could come to him bis breath would be 

17* 2 

394 A HISTORV OF THE [1816. 

gone, and the doctor would only pronounce him dead. 
Being then asked if he had any thing to communi- 
cate, he replied, that as he had fully expressed his 
mind to Bishop M'Kendree in relation to the Church, 
he had nothing more to add. 

About eleven o'clock on Sabbath morning he in 
quired if it were not time for meeting ; but soon recol- 
lecting himself, he requested the family to be called 
together. This being done, brother Bond sung, prayed, 
and expounded the twenty-first chapter of the Apoca- 
lypse, during which the bishop appeared calm and 
much engaged in devotion. After these exercises 
were closed, they offered him a little barley water, 
but such was his weakness that he could not swallow 
it, and his power of utterance began to fail. On ob- 
serving the anxiety of his beloved companion, who 
had attended him with such commendable assiduity 
for so long a time, he raised his dying hand, and at 
the same time looked at him joyfully. On being ask- 
ed by brother Bond if he felt the Lord Jesus precious, 
exerting all his remaining strength in token of a com- 
plete victory, he raised both his hands. 

In a few minutes after this, as he sat on his 
chair with his head reclining upon the hand of brother 
Bond, without a struggle, and with great composure, 
he breathed his last on Sabbath the 31st of March, 
1816, in the seventy-first year of his age. 

His remains were deposited in Spottsylvania, in the 
family burying ground of Mr. Arnold, at whose house 
he died. But on the assembling of the General Con- 
ference in Baltimore, by its order, and at the request 
of the brethren in ^hat city, the mortal remains of 
Bishop Asbury were removed to Baltimore, and depo- 


sited under the recess of the pulpit of the Eutaw- 
street church, in a vault which had been prepared for 
that purpose. 

The corpse was followed from the conference 
room in Light-street, by the members of the General 
Conference, severs^ clergymen of other denominations, 
and by a vast concourse of the citizens of Baltimore, 
being preceded by Bishop M'Kendree as the officiat- 
ing minister, attended by Mr. Black, a representative 
from the British to the American conference, to the 
Eutaw-street church, where a funeral oration was de- 
livered by Bishop M'Kendree. After this the body 
ofthis great man of God was committed to its tomb, 
to await the hour when " all that are in their graves 
shall come forth, they that have done good to the 
resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to 
the resurrection of damnation." 

The following inscription reminds the visiter to 
this sacred spot of the man to whose memory the 
polished marble was erected : — 




bishop op the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. 

He was born in England, August 20th, 1745 ; 

Entered the ministry at the age of 17; 

Came a missionary to America, 1771 ; 

Was ordained Bishop in this city, December 27th, 1784; 

Annually visited the conferences in the United States ; 

With much zeal continued to " preach the word," v 



literally ended his labors with his life, 

near Fredericksburg, Virginia, 

396 A HISTORY OF THE [1814- 

in the full triumphs of faith, on the 31st of March, 1816. 

Aged 70 years, 7 months, and 11 days. 

His remains were deposited in this vault, May 10th, 1816, 

by the General Conference then sitting in this city. 

His journals will exhibit to posterity 

his labors, his difficulties, his sufferings, 

his patience, his perseverance, his love to God and man. 

A number of funeral sermons were preached in 
different places for our departed superintendent, some 
of which were afterward published ; and the Baltimore 
conference engaged a gentleman of competent talents 
to write his life, which, however, was never completed ; 
and after waiting until 1824 for its appearance the 
General Conference selected the Rev. William Beau- 
champ to complete the task, but he was called home 
before he had lime to enter upon his work ; and thus 
a life of Bishop Asbury has never been furnished the 
world. This defect I have endeavored, so far as my 
general plan would admit, to supply, by giving some 
of the most important items in his experience, travels, 
;i labors, and shall conclude by a few general 
Tre'marks on some prominent features of his character. 
I5ut even these must necessarily be imperfect, not 
only from my want of ability to do justice to a 
character so exalted, seen through such a variety of 
mediums, and presenting so many varying points, but 
also for want of room to say all that truth and justice 
would seem to require. 

1. The first thing we notice is the depth of 
nts experience as a Christian. This infused a new 
principle of action, constituted the purity of his mo- 
tives, and sanctified all his conduct. This experience 
of divine grace penetrates into the depths of the soul, 
and brings up, having changed the heart and sancti 


fied the affections, new desires, excites new emotions, 
and gives new views of God, of man, of human des- 
tiny, and the end of all human actions. 

Let those who have been accustomed to estimate 
human conduct from motives of self-interest, ambition, 
or worldly policy, recollect that when the heart is re- 
newed by grace, there springs up ?, new motive of 
action, and new hopes of reward, which exalt the in- 
dividual as far above the mere man of the world as 
the heavens are high above the earth. That young 
Asbury was blessed with this new creation, by that 
Holy Spirit which ever after wrought mightily in him 
to the subduing of all unholy propensities, must be 
manifest to all who have consulted the preceding 

2. His call to the work of the ministry was evi- 
dently of a divine character. Born in humble life, 
destined by his parents and his own choice for a me- 
chanical pursuit, neither he nor they had any thought 
of his becoming a minister of the sanctuary, until it 
was made manifest to him and to others competent to 
judge, that a dispensation of the gospel was committed 
to him. He was then not disobedient to the heavenly 
vision, but entered upon his work with all his soul and 
strength, and continued with unabated ardor and dili- 
gence until he ceased "at once to work and live." 

3. His talents as a preacher must be estimated in 
connection with those other duties which devolved 
upon him as the superintendent of the Church. It is 
said by those who had the privilege of hearing him 
in the vigor of manhood, before time and care had 
wrinkled his forehead, that he was deep and systemati- 
cal in his discourses, ably and " rightly dividing the 


398 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

word of truth," fluent and powerful in his delivery, as 
well as remarkably pointed in his appeals to the con- 
sciences of his hearers. His attitude in the pulpit 
was graceful, dignified, and solemn; his voice full and 
commanding; his enunciation clear and distinct; and 
sometimes a sudden burst of eloquence would break 
forth in a manner which spoke a soul full of God, and 
like a mountain torrent swept all before it. 

I remember an instance of this in the city of Bal- 
timore in 1808, while he was preaching on a Sab- 
bath morning in the Eutaw-street church, in the 
presence of many members of the General Confer- 
ence, and among others, the Rev. Mr. Otterbein sat 
by his side in the pulpit. The bishop was discours- 
ing upon the duty of parents to their children. Having 
uttered a severe reproof to those who neglect this duty 
and indulge their children in the frivolities of the 
world, he suddenly paused, and then said, " But you 
will say this is hard. Alas," he added — letting his 
voice which had been raised into that high command- 
ing tone which gave such a majesty to what he utter- 
ed, suddenly fall to a low and soft key, — " It is harder 
to be damned !" These words, dropping from his lips 
in a manner which indicated the deep sensations of 
his heart, fell upon the audience, now wrought up to 
the highest pitch of intensity by what had preceded 
them, like the sudden bursting of a cloud upon the 
mown grass, and they were in a moment melted into 
tears — sobs and groans were heard all over the house. 
The venerable Otterbein, noble and dignified in his 
appearance, was turned into a little child — the tears 
furrowing his cheeks — bespeaking the deep feelings 
of his heart. 


But though Bishop Asbury was thus able and sys- 
tematic in his preaching in the earlier days of his 
ministry, as other duties accumulated, the cares of 
the superintendency multiplied, and his travels neces- 
sarily enlarged, it seemed impossible for him to give 
that attention to reading and study which is essential 
for a full development and vigorous exercise of the 
mental powers. Hence in his latter days his man- 
ner of preaching changed — -he was often quite un- 
methodical in his arrangement — sometimes abruptly 
jumping, if I may so express it, from one subject to 
another, intermingling anecdotes of an instructive 
ckaracter, and suddenly breaking forth in most tre- 
mendous rebukes of some prevalent vice, and con- 
cluding with an admonition full of point and pathos. 
Yet he always exhibited a mind deep and solemn, 
ever intent upon securing the salvation of his own 
soul and the souls of those who heard him. 

4. For diligence in his calling, he was surpassed 
by no one, unless we may except the ever active 
Wesley ; and for suffering privations and enduring 
hardships, he even far exceeded his prototype ; inas- 
much as the former was not called, in the discharge 
of his important duties, to such a rugged and exten- 
sive field of labor as that into which Bishop Asbury 
was thrust. 

During the forty-five years of his ministry in Ame- 
rica, allowing that he preached on an average one 
sermon a day — and he often preached three times 
on the Sabbath — he delivered not less than sixteen 
thousand four hundred and twenty-five sermons, be- 
sides his lectures to the societies, and meeting classes ; 
allowing him six thousand miles a year, which, it is 


400 A HISTORY OF THE [J 816 

believed he generally exceeded, he must hsve traveled 
during the same time about two hundred and seventy 
thousand miles, much of it on the very worst of 
roads ; from the time of the organization of the 
Church in 1784, to the period of his death, thirty- 
two years, allowing an average of seven conferences 
a year, he sat in no less than two hundred and twen- 
ty four annual conferences, and in their infancy their 
entire business devolved chiefly on himself; and he 
probably consecrated, including traveling and local 
preachers, more than four thousand persons to the 
sacred office ! Here, then, is a missionary bishop 
worthy of the name, whose example may be held up 
for the imitation of all who engage in this sacred work. 
We have spoken of his travels. He was no idle 
traveler, nor did he ever journey for pleasure. As 
before noticed, to aid him in scattering the good seed 
of the kingdom, he distributed religious tracts, Bibles, 
and Testaments ; and " into whatsoever house he en- 
tered," he not only said, " Peace be to this house," 
but he addressed himself to its inmates personally on 
the subject of religion, and let their character be 
whatever it might, unless absolutely prohibited, he 
never left them without prayer. In this exercise he 
was indeed mighty. As he frequently remarked that 
" he lived in God from moment to moment," so his 
prayers indicated the most intimate communion with 
Him and with his Son Jesus Christ. Though great 
in the pulpit, and strong in the government which he 
exercised, yet prayer seemed to be his forte, the de- 
lightful element of his soul. Though never boisterous 
in his manner, but solemn and devout, yet his prayers 
were comprehensive, frequent, and fervent, and some- 


times attended with such an unction from the holy 
one, as made it evident that he was in truth in audi- 
ence with the Deity. 

5. With all his other excellences, perhaps Bishop 
Asbury never appeared so great as in the tact of 
governing the conferences. He had deeply studied 
the character of man, and well understood the various 
springs of human action. But that which gave him 
such a commanding influence over others, was the 
confidence which he had inspired in his wisdom and 
integrity. The manner in which he had deported 
himself from the time he first landed on our shores, 
convinced all with whom he had intercourse that he 
" sought not his own but them," and that the high 
ends he aimed to accomplish, were the present and 
future salvation of immortal beings. His deadness 
to the world, to human applause, to riches and world- 
ly honors, and his deep devotion to God, made an 
impression upon all who bore witness to his spirit 
and conduct, that he was actuated by the purest and 
most elevated motives and views. This pervading 
impression wrought that confidence in the uprightness 
of his intentions and wisdom of his plans, which gave 
him such a control over both preachers and people as 
enabled him to discharge the high trusts confided to 
him, with so much facility and to such general satis- 
faction. Hence the apparent ease with which he 
managed the complicated machinery of Methodism, 
guided the councils of the conferences, fixed the sta- 
tions of the preachers, and otherwise exercised his 
authority for the general good of the entire body. 

It is true, he did not escape censure. " The arch- 
ers shot at him ;" but " his bow abode in strength." 


402 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

That a man occupying such an elevated station, and 
exerting such an extensive influence as he did, should 
wholly escape censure, is more than could be expect- 
ed, constituted as human society is. But these cen- 
sures generally fell harmless at his feet. Armed as 
he was " with the whole armor of God," he repelled 
" all the fiery darts" of his adversaries, and stood firm 
in the defence of the cause he had espoused, and in a 
holy consciousness of an upright mind and a blame 
less conduct. 

It has indeed been objected to him that in the ex- 
ercise of that attribute of power with which he was 
invested, he sometimes manifested a sternness border- 
ing upon a hardheartedness which cannot be justified. 
Not knowing the sympathies of a husband and a fa- 
ther from actual experience,* and accustomed as he 

* It is generally known, I believe, that Bishop Asbury was 
never married. And as it will give the reader an idea of his 
thoughts on this subject, together with the reasons for his ce- 
libacy, I will here insert them, as I find them in his Journal, 
vol. iii, p. 128. 

" If I should die in celibacy, which I think quite probable, I 
give the following reasons for what can scarcely be called my 
choice. I was called in my fourteenth year ; I began my pub- 
lic exercises between sixteen and seventeen ; at twenty-one I 
traveled ; at twenty-six I came to America ; thus far I had 
reasons enough for a single life. It had been my intention of 
returning to Europe at thirty years of age ; but the war con- 
tinued, and it was ten years before we had a settled, last- 
ing peace : this was no time to marry or be given in marriage. 
At forty-nine I was ordained superintendent bishop in America 
Among the duties imposed upon me by my office was that of 
traveling extensively, and I could hardly expect to find a wo- 
man with grace enough to enable her to live but one week out 
of the fifty-two with her husband : besides, what right has any 
man to take advantage of the affections of a woman, make her 


was to make continual sacrifices himself in the 
cause of his Master, that he did not always make 
sufficient allowance for human frailties, and for the 
unavoidable ills which accompany a married tra- 
veling preacher, may be admitted without any im- 
peachment of either his wisdom, goodness, or the 
tenderness of hrs nature. 

But those who think Bishop Asbury was unfeeling, 
have very much misunderstood his character. Though 
he suitably detested that squeamishness of nature and 
whining disposition which leads some men always to 
complain of their hard lot, yet no man was usually 
more alive to the happiness of others, or more assidu 
ously endeavored to accommodate the feelings and 
meet the wishes of all, so far as a good conscience 
and the dictates of a sound judgment would allow. 
I have heard him in open conference request the 
preachers to give him a representation of their cases 
before making out their stations, that he might under- 
stand their peculiar circumstances, and act accord- 
ingly — and also, even after the conference adjourned, 
have I known him to make alterations to accommo- 
date a brother who thought himself aggrieved, or to 
meet a case not before known. In these respects he 
felt and acted as a father among his family. 

his wife, and by a voluntary absence subvert the whole order 
and economy of the marriage state, by separating those whom 
neither God, nature, nor the requirements of civil society per- 
mit long to be put asunder : it is neither just nor generous. I 
may add to this that I had little money, and with this little ad- 
ministered to the necessities of a beloved mother until I was 
fifty-seven : if I have done wrong, I hope God and the sex 
will forgive me : it is my duty now to bestow the pittance I may 
have to spare upon the widows and fatherless girls, and poor 
married men." 

404 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

It is true that in some instances, when oppressed 
with a multiplicity of cares, and assailed with nu- 
merous opposing claims, such as are known only to 
those who have had some experience in disposing of 
the stations of so many men, and perhaps thwarted in 
his good intentions by restless and fastidious spirits, 
who consulted their own interests more than the ge- 
neral good, he manifested some impatience and appear- 
ed unyielding in the decisions of his own mind. But 
if, at any time, he betrayed this weakness of human 
nature, like the well-tempered sword which, while it 
bends under the hand of him who tries its metal, 
quickly resumes its natural position, he soon regained 
his equanimity of mind, and sought the earliest op- 
portunity to soothe the spirit of him he might have 
wounded.* And whatever errors he may have com- 

* As an evidence of this disposition of mind, so amiable in 
itself, I give the following extract of a letter which I have in 
my possession, dated in New- York, May 7, 1812. It seems 
the bishop had before written to the person to whom this let- 
ter was directed, in which the latter thought the bishop in some 
indirect way, had accused him of a species of duplicity, and the 
preacher had requested an explanation. To this the bishop 
answers in the following manner : — 

" My Dear Brother and Son : — It is impossible for me to 
enter into explanations. Unhappily suspicions have taken 
place, I said, I think, among us, including myself. I confess 
I had better not have said any thing. I did not mean a charge 
against you nor any innocent person. I am sorry I am not 
more prudent; but when I am called upon so often to speak 
and write, I am not sufficiently on my guard. I hope you will 
bear with me. I am persuaded of your uprightness. Brother 
* * * * has spoken in the highest terms of you to me, in word 
and letter. You will pardon me, and pray that I may say, «' •, 
and preach, and write better. 

" I remain thine in Jesus, 
o " Francis Asbury." 


mitted of this sort — and who is exempt from errors ? — ■ 
it was manifest to all that he aimed at the right, and per- 
haps oftener hit it than those who attempted to correct 
him, or who complained of his defective administration. 
Allowing the truth of what he says in one place, " the 
measure he meted to others he expected to receive," 
he must have acted under the influence of the golden 
rule in meting to others their portion of ministerial 
labor ; and his constant example refuted all the calum- 
nies of those who accused him of laying burdens 
upon others which he himself was unwilling to bear. 
6. His charity knew no bounds but his ability. 
If a " bishop must be given to hospitality," and that 
he may be the more hospitable, " be temperate in all 
things," then did Bishop Asbury exhibit this excellent 
trait of the episcopal character. He literally begged 
from door to door to collect money to supply the 
wants of poor preachers, and so to aid them that the 

I need hardly say that this letter melted the heart of the 
young preacher into tenderness, entirely removed his apprehen- 
sions, and gave him a more exalted opinion of his venerable 
bishop than he ever had before, and indeed made him feel 
ashamed of himself for having laid the bishop under an obliga- 
tion to make such a concession. 

Many such instances of ingenuous acknowledgment, in the 
same conciliatory strain, might be mentioned, greatly to the 
credit of his head and heart. As he was conscious that he was 
too fallible not to err, so he was too wise and good to persist in 
an error when convinced he had committed one ; a virtue of 
rare occurrence among those who wilfully go astray, because 
the same perverse disposition which impels them to the one 
prevents them from the performance of the other. Sincere 
and honest himself, whatever errors he may have committed, 
they were of a venial character, and were therefore atoned for 
with the same frankness and readiness with which an honest 
wind would forgive and forget them. 

406 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

" poor might have the gospel preached' to them." 
How often, when cases of distress were revealed in 
an annual conference, would he arise from his chair, 
seize his broad-brimmed hat, and, with a pleasant 
smile upon his countenance, first drop in a piece of 
money himself, and then hand it round to the others, 
making all, by the humorous manner in which he did 
it, feel glad of the opportunity of contributing, though 
it might be nearly their last shilling, for such an object! 
Thus, by his example, he provoked others to liberality. 

I believe, notwithstanding the change of the times, 
he never allowed himself to take over sixty-four dol- 
lars annually, and his traveling expenses ; and though 
through the kindness of some friends who had be- 
queathed it to him, he was worth, when he died, be- 
sides his traveling apparatus, about two thousand dol- 
lars, yet he touched it not, but left it to the Book 
Concern, merely taxing it with the gift of a Bible to 
each of his nominal children, and an annuity to a de- 
pendent widow of a Methodist preacher. 

7. He was not only " temperate in all things," but 
he seemed to hold in utter abhorrence all approaches 
to external pomp, and the trappings of worldly glory. 
The same broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat, which 
was in vogue when he entered the ministry, his .entire 
costume corresponding with it in plainness and cheap- 
ness, he wore until the day of his death. And though 
the General Conference of 1812 passed a resolution 
requesting him to sit for his likeness to be drawn by 
a portrait painter of Philadelphia, yet on the adjourn- 
ment of conference, he fled so precipitately from the 
city, that the secretary found it necessary to write a 
letter of apology to the gentleman concerned, stating 


the reluctance of the bishop to have his portrait taken. 
And it was with no small difficulty that he was finally- 
prevailed upon by his friends to gratify them with 
this boon. He, however, at last submitted to their 

The gaudy tinsels of fashion, the feastings of the 
rich and luxurious, the struttings of upstart young 
men who strove to ape the giddy and the gay, drew 
from him the most severe and very often most morti- 
fying reproofs. But his own example was a justifi- 
cation for his severity in this respect. Yet he was 
always neat in his personal appearance, being as far 
removed from the negligence of the sloven, as he, was 
from the fashionable airs of the supercilious fop. 

8. In this plain dress, with a mind richly stored 
with knowledge and a heart seasoned with grace, 
Bishop Asbury seemed a fit representative of a primi- 
tive evangelist, wearing not the tinselled mitre and 
flowing robes which decorate the persons of some 
modern bishops, but the grave attire which became 
an apostle, with his head silvered over with locks 
which had grown gray in a long and laborious ser- 
vice of his divine Master. Having a slender consti- 
tution, abstemious in his habits and living, suffering 
often from disease, and constantly exposed to wind 
and weather, burdened also with " the care of all the 
churches," there was rather a sombre cast upon his 
countenance, and at times somewhat of a forbidding 
aspect in an eye naturally bright and piercing. 

Yet Bishop Asbury was not generally melancholy. 
Though at times subject to depression of spirits, and 
to temporary gloom, yet generally he was of a lively 
and cheerful disposition ; sometimes,'- in conversation 


408 A HISTORY OF THE [1816, 

with his friends, humorous and playful, yet always 
directing his anecdotes, of which he had a fund, to 
some good end, to render vice the more odious or 
virtue the more lovely. 

9. In the discharge of his official duties in consecrating 
men to the office of deacons, elders, or bishops, he was 
remarkably solemn, dignified, and impressive. Who that 
has ever heard him say, in that solemn and commanding 
tone of voice which was to him natural and unaffect- 
ed, " Take thou authority to preach the word of God, 
and to administer the holy sacraments in the congrega- 
tion," has not felt a sensation of awe come over his 
mind, from the impressive and solemn manner in 
which the words were pronounced ! 

In reading the several parts of the consecration 
services, he would sometimes, from the overflowings 
of a full heart, break forth in an extemporaneous effu- 
sion, in language of deep affection, admonition, or in- 
struction, in a manner which indicated the lively inte- 
rest which he felt in the welfare of those to whom he 
addressed himself. But these extemporaneous ad- 
dresses were always short, pithy s and directly to the 
point ; for Bishop Asbury never wearied an audi- 
ence with a dull prosing harangue on common-place 
topics, as if previously prepared for the nonce, and 
much less on occasions when an attempt to mend is 
only to mar the beautifully appropriate services, as 
laid down in the examination of candidates, and in 
the ordinal of the book. And the manner in which 
he propounded those pointed questions, plain and in- 
telligible in themselves, made them sufficiently im- 
pressive without the aid of a lengthened comment, 
which more frequently weakens than strengthens 


the sense; and the holy breathing of a devout soul 
which accompanied the devotional parts of the ordina- 
tion services, which was so apparent when performed 
by Bishop Asbury, superceded the necessity of any 
extemporaneous effusions, especially in language less 
appropriate. This he knew perfectly well, and acted 

Yet, sometimes, when he arose from his knees, 
and commenced reading, he would occasionally throw 
i.i sentences, which for their point and appropriateness, 
would fall upon the ear with a force and emphasis 
that could hardly be resisted ; and they were the 
more valuable because they seemed to come unpre- 
meditatedly, springing up from a heart overflowing with 
the holiest and therefore the kindliest feeling. 

I remember on one occasion, when laying his 
hands upon a young man who was kneeling at the 
altar to receive the office of deacon, the bishop, instead 
of commencing in the ordinary way, lifting up his 
eyes toward heaven, with his soul heaving under a 
pressure he seemed to feel, began thus : — " From the 
ends of the earth we call upon thee, O Lord God 
Almighty, to pour upon this thy servant the Holy 
Spirit, that he may have authority," &c. ; and this 
was accompanied with such an unction from the Holy 
One, that the young minister was suddenly suffused 
in tears, while his nerves became so relaxed that he 
could hardly sustain himself on his knees. 

At another time, being somewhat displeased at the 
gay attire of one of the candidates, and perceiving, as 
was supposed, an air of self-confidence in another, the 
bishop burst out into a strain of rebuke, mingled with 
the tenderest expostulation, in a manner which made 

Vol. ii. — i» 

410 A HISTORY OF THE [1816 

the ears of all that heard it to tingle, creating, in the 
mean time, a sudden sensation of abhorrence against 
every thing beneath the dignity, the gravity, and the 
holiness of the ministerial character. The words he 
used on this occasion are forgotten by the writer, but 
they were few, well chosen, and delivered with that 
deep feeling and solemnity, which no man unless he 
possess the same gift need attempt to imitate, lest he 
come under the suspicion of uttering what he neither 
feels nor understands. 

These sententious, and often abrupt sentences, usu- 
ally made a more deep and lasting impression upon 
the mind and heart than the most finished composi- 
tion could have done, because they were thoughts of 
sudden inspiration, uttered spontaneously from the 
fulness of a heart always bearing upon it an im- 
press of the divine image — a heart breathing in an 
atmosphere sanctified by the constant presence of his 

What a thrill did he send through the congregation 
on a certain occasion, when, after having completed 
the ordination service in the city of Albany, he lifted 
up the Holy Bible, and exclaimed with an emphasis 
peculiar to himself, " This is the minister's battle-axe. 
This is his sword. Take this therefore and conquer !" 
These same words might have been uttered by another, 
and yet produce no effect. For it was not the words 
simply, but the manner and the occasion of using them 
which invested them with that sublimity, that solemn 
grandeur, and overwhelming pathos and power which 
produced the thrilling effect I have in vain attempted 
to describe. Those now living who have heard him 
may, however, comprehend my meaning, and hence 


make up from their own recollection for the imper- 
fection of my description. 

10. Another trait in the character of Bishop As- 
bury was, the influence which he exerted over others 
in the social circle. In whatever company he ap- 
peared, whether religious or irreligious, whether high 
or low, learned or unlearned, he generally had such as- 
cendancy over the minds of others, that he could easily 
lead the conversation, and thereby exert an influence 
in favor of religion highly beneficial to all concerned. 
Where he was known, such was the respect felt for 
his character, that great deference was paid to his 
judgment, and hence a greater desire was generally 
manifested by others to listen to his discourse, 
than to intrude their own opinions in the social 

It has already been observed that he seldom, if in- 
deed ever, either visited others or 'received visiters, 
without praying with them before they separated. 
On a certain occasion, being indisposed, two of the 
most eminent physicians were employed to afford him 
their medical advice. When they had ended their 
services, the bishop asked them the amount of their 
demand. They very courteously and respectfully re- 
plied, that they desired nothing more than his prayers. 
The bishop then remarked that he never suffered him- 
self to be in debt, and therefore he would discharge 
this obligation without delay, and instantly bowed up- 
on his knees, and offered up a most fervent prayer to 
almighty God for the salvation of his generous medi 
cal friends. This took them upon surprise. It is 
said, indeed, that one of them was skeptically inclined, 
and was somewhat abashed to find himself so unceremo- 


412 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

niously brought upon his knees for the first time in 
his life, to listen to the prayer of a Christian bishop, 
offered up in the name of a Savior in whom he had 
little or no faith. 

The other who was in attendance, the late Dr. Ben- 
jamin Rush, with whom Bishop Asbury was on 
terms of intimacy, being as eminent for his Christian 
virtues as he was for his medical skill, was no less 
edified than delighted in this opportunity of partici- 
pating with his friend in an act of devotion so highly 
creditable to his head and heart. 

This perfect command of himself and of others ena- 
bled him to keep at a respectful distance all frivolous 
company, to awe into silence the facetious witling, as 
well as to secure the respect, love, and confidence 
of the wise and good with whom he associated. And 
though sometimes, in his extensive travels, he was 
thrown into promiscuous assemblages of men, espe- 
cially when obliged to lodge in the public inns, he al- 
ways availed himself of the opportunity to drop a word 
for God, nor would he depart without proposing 
prayer, and seldom, such influence had his personal 
appearance over the minds of others, was he denied 
the privilege of performing this duty. 

11. It may be expected that I should speak of his 
faults. But what need of this ? Have not all human 
beings human frailties ? Why then dwell upon that 
which is common to man ? But all men have not 
the virtues which adorned Bishop Asbury. These 
therefore may be selected, not so much indeed in 
praise of the man, as to "glorify the grace of God in 
him," which wrought mightily, to the destroying of nil 
sinful desires, and which enabled him to " wrestle"' 


successfully against "principalities and powers," and 
to " triumph in Christ Jesus" over all opposition. In 
the midst, therefore, of these infirmities which are 
common to man, this grace of God in Christ shone 
out conspicuously, made him equal to his herculean 
task, and finally crowned him " more than a conqueror 
through Him wno loved him. 

But the sun has its spots. And though mindful 
of the maxim that we should " tread lightly on the 
ashes of the dead," I will venture to mention two 
things in which I think, with great deference indeed, 
he erred in his administration. In the first place, he 
and Dr. Coke having been baffled in their earlier 
attempts to establish seminaries of learning, I think 
Bishop Asbury, becoming discouraged from these 
failures, was at length too indifferent to this sub- 
ject, especially in the ministry. 

Probably having beheld the deleterious effects up- 
on the Church by trusting to learning alone as a quali- 
fication for the ministry, and also seeing the disgust- 
ing pedantry of some who had a smattering knowledge 
of the sciences, he might have imbibed an undue 
prejudice against learning and a learned ministry, 
fearing that learning and deep piety were not easily 
associated in the same man. He had also long been 
a witness to the deadening effects of a lifeless, though 
learned ministry, upon the interests of true religion on 
the one hand, and the enlivening effects of a spiritual 
though unlearned ministry on the other ; and he doubt- 
less persuaded himself that it was extremely difficult 
to pursue the one without sacrificing the other. And 
as to general education, he thought that the Methodists 
were not called to devote their energies to the pio 


414 A HISTORY OF THE tl816 

motion of this, but to preach the gospel, not consider- 
ing probably that this might be done without leaving 
the other undone. 

But whatever consideration might have influenced 
him, it is certain that after the destruction of Cokes- 
bury College, and the failure of the district schools, 
he did not sufficiently encourage the pursuit of literature 
and science, and that some preachers who, in despite 
of every obstruction thrown in their way, manifested a 
determination to acquire all the knowledge within 
their reach, were sometimes checked in their progres*. 
from a fear of incurring the suspicion of being more 
ambitious to shine in the galaxy of literature than to 
be useful as ministers of the sanctuary. And it is 
highly probable that some who gave evidence of the 
existence of this weakness, by drawing forth the re- 
bukes of the bishop, may have given birth to the sus- 
picion. He knew perfectly well that " knowledge" 
without charity " puffeth up" the soul with vanity ; and 
that while it is possible to be " spoiled with philoso 
phy and vain conceit," it is equally possible for the 
minister of Christ, though destitute of the embellish- 
ments of human literature and science, to be useful 
to his fellow-men. 

But though these considerations are offered as an 
apology for the indifference manifested by Bishop 
Asbury on the subject of education, they are not in- 
tended as a justifiable excuse for its general neglect 
for so many years by the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
It was a fault which will require years of bitter re- 
pentance and assiduous amendment to atone for, as it 
has thrown us behind the age in scientific and mental 
improvement, with whatever care and diligence we may 


now redeem the time. It is, however, cause of 
gratitude that a redeeming spirit has gone abroad, 
which augurs well for the future prosperity and rising 
glory of the Church. 

But whatever indifference he might have manifest- 
ed toward the cause of education in general, he by 
no means neglected the improvement of his own mind. 
Though his constant traveling and the other indispen- 
sable duties of his office, prevented him from any 
regular and systematic pursuit of knowledge, yet he 
was, as far as his circumstances would permit, a hard 
student, a man of general information, much addicted 
to reading and study, and a close observer of passing 
events, of men, manners, and things. He was, indeed, 
in the habit of reading the sacred Scriptures in the 
languages in which they were first written, though 
his modesty in this respect prevented him from mak- 
ing any ostentatious show of learning. It is manifest, 
however, from his journal, though they were all erased 
in the revision which was made under his own inspec- 
tion up to the year 1807, and was well known to his 
friends, that he was in the habit of referring for the 
illustration of difficult texts, to the original Scriptures, 
and to the critical interpretation of certain passages. 
Such, indeed, was the rich store of his knowledge, 
that he could bring " from his treasury things new and 
old," and he applied it all for the promotion of experi- 
mental and practical godliness. 

The other defect in Bishop Asbury's administration, 
as I think, was the not encouraging the people sufficient- 
ly in making provision for their ministers, particularly 
for men of families. He did not, certainly, wish them 
to suffer from poyerty, for he often, as we have before 


416 A HISTORY OF THE [1816. 

seen, exerted himself, and gave his own money to 
supply their wants ; but while he wished them to be 
above suffering pecuniary distress, he seemed to fear, 
that if they were too well off as it respects this 
world's goods, they would lose their zeal and spiritu- 
ality, and thus cease to be useful ; and as it was very 
congenial to that covetous disposition so natural to 
men, to withhold when they are not compelled to pay, 
many such quoted Bishop Asbury to justify their 
want of practical liberality.* 

He was, no doubt justified in his fears respecting 
the freezing effects of worldly prosperity upon the 
spiritual interests of the soul, by the example of many, 
as well as by the admonitory language of the Saviour 
respecting the danger of riches ; but it should be re- 
collected that extreme poverty is as often associated 
with the vices of murmuring and frelfulness as riches 
are with luxurious indulgence ; and that therefore, to 
avoid both the one and the other, a reasonable compe- 
tency is the most desirable way, agreeably to the 
prayer, " Give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed 
me with food convenient for me." 

Bishop Asbury considered the itinerant ministry, 
under God, as the grand instrument of the world's 
salvation. To support this therefore, in all its vigor 
and spirituality, he bent all his energies. And he 
feared that were the ministry to become wealthy 

* A. certain steward of a circuit, when urged to exert himself 
to make a more ample provision for the support of their preach- 
ers, remarked that he had heard Bishop Asbury pray to the 
Lord to keep the preachers poor ! The presiding- elder to 
whom this was said replied, that " such a prayer in that place 
was quite unnecessary, as he and the people would, without any 
euch prompting, see that this was done to perfection." 


there would be so many temptations to locate that 
they could hardly be resisted. Hence, to prevent 
a catastrophe which must come upon the Church by 
the substitution of a located for a traveling ministry, he 
thought it essential to keep it aloof from the world, by 
preventing it from accumulating worldly property ; yet 
it may be questioned whether more have not been 
induced to locate from a feeling or a fear of poverty, 
than by the enjoyment of a competency. This, at 
least, has been the pretence, and no doubt, in numer- 
ous instances, the real cause. And had a competent 
provision been timely made for the support of itinerant 
ministers, and for the suitable education of their chil- 
dren, I have no doubt we should have been far 
stronger every way, in wisdom, in numbers, in minis- 
terial talent and usefulness, if not also in holiness and 
general prosperity. 

Thus have I, according to the best of my judgment, 
and under a consciousness of the infirmities which 
are the common lot of humanity, honestly expressed 
my views of the character of one of the most holy, 
laborious, and useful men that ever trod the American 
soil. Others may have exceeded him in general lite- 
rature, in systematic and various branches of know- 
ledge ; but in the depth and genuineness of his expe- 
rience, in his knowledge of the human heart and 
character, as well as of theological truth, in the art of 
government, in varied and useful labors, in the extent 
of his travels, and severity of his sufferings in the 
cause of Christ, he stands perhaps unrivalled among 
American preachers. 

The defects above noticed no more detract from 
the general excellence of his character than the fleet- 

18* 2 

418 A HISTORY OF THE [1810, 

ing clouds do from the glory of the sun. They are 
lost amid the general effulgence which shines out 
from every aspect of his moral and intellectual coun- 
tenance. He has, indeed, imprinted his image upon 
the institutions of the Church he was instrumental in 
buildingup in this western world ; and he "finished his 
course with joy," went down to the grave with an 
unsullied reputation, and bequeathed to his brethren in 
the ministry and to the Church generally a name and 
a character not only untarnished, but resplendent with 
every ministerial and Christian virtue. 

Concluding Remarks. 


When I commenced writing, my intention was to 
complete the history by bringing it down to the pre- 
sent time, in two moderate-sized volumes, but it has 
lengthened out on my hands far beyond my expecta- 
tion, when I began ; and being frequently exhorted 
by friends in whose judgment I have much confidence, 
not to abridge, and my own convictions coinciding with 
theirs respecting the expediency of furnishing a com- 
plete history of all our affairs, so as to give the reader 
a full view and a right understanding of our doctrine, 
economy, labors, and success, as well as the difficul- 
ties with which we have to contend, — I am thus com- 
pelled to close this volume here, without even adding, 
as I intended, a chapter in relation to the Book 

On reviewing my work I am very far from being 


satisfied with what I have done. In addition to some 
incidental errors, which seem almost unavoidable in 
carrying a work through the press, though I have 
labored most assiduously to present every thing in 
consecutive order, yet the whole appears more like 
scraps and shreds than like a connected history. The 
reader may rest assured, however, that this was una- 
voidable, at least with the present writer, from the 
very manner in which he has attempted, year after 
year, to weave the materials together. And the la- 
bor necessary to produce a work of this character can 
be. known only to those who may have made the trial, 
as I have frequently labored for hours, turning from 
one document to another, comparing and collating, in 
order to sift out the truth, to ascertain a fact that may 
have been recorded in a line or two. 

This perplexing labor might, indeed, have been 
avoided, by writing what is called the philosophy of 
history, and -by sliding over important facts, neglect- 
ing true historical details, and sluring over difficulties 
without attempting to remove them. The work, 
nevertheless, has, on the whole, been pleasant and 
profitable to myself, by increasing, as I humbly trust, 
my gratitude to God for having done so much for 
this branch of his Church. 

I have aimed at truth — and in telling it have 
ventured to commend or censure, as I thought that ster- 
ling attribute required. In doing this, however, I 
have not lost sight of that consciousness of fallibility 
which so strikingly distinguishes human beings, and 
have uttered my thoughts with the same cautious 
freedom and impartiality with which I hope myself to 
be judged and spoken of by others. 

420 A HISTORY OF THE M. E. CHURCH. [1816. 

With these remarks the present volume is dismiss- 
ed, by only adding that whether I shall proceed fur- 
ther in the history is somewhat uncertain, and will 
depend on those contingencies over which human 
beings have but little control. 



The following extract of a letter I received from the Rev. 
William Case, in answer to one I wrote to him requesting in- 
formation respecting the state of things on the lines, feeling, as 
I did, very anxious for the fate of those who were exposed to 
the calamities of war, many of whom, I was well aware, might 
be among my former acquaintances. The affecting description 
of the scene at Sackett's Harbor, contained in the following 
extract, struck me with such force at the time, that I request- 
ed permission of the author to make it public. In answer to 
this, under date of July 24, 1814, the writer says, 

" I submit to your wisdom and prudence the propriety of 
publishing part of my last letter to you." 

Of this permission, however, I have not availed myself until 
now, and it is published at this time with a view to illustrate 
the horrors of war, as well as to show that the anticipations 
mentioned in the text were fully realized, as also to exhibit the 
pious concern which was felt by God's faithful servants for 
those who were compelled to suffer in the calamities of a war 
which was then raging along the frontiers and in Canada. 

Extract of a letter from the Rev. William Case, dated Utica, 
May 29, 1813. 

" I was present a few hours after the battle at Sackett's 
Harbor, where I witnessed a scene of death and carnage more 
moving than all I ever saw before. Numbers lay cold in death ! 
Many were groaning with their wounds and bleeding in their 
gore ! Myself and two more preachers were in Rut- 
land, about ten miles from the harbor, and were about to com- 
mence clearing off a camp ground, but on hearing the cannon 
and constant roll of small arms we gave up the idea of work, 
and betook ourselves to prayer. Such sensations I never real- 
ized before ! We knew many of our acquaintances were 
there, among whom were brethren in the Lord. We thought 
on the condition of women whose husbands and sons 
were exposed, the welfare of our country, where so much in- 
terest was at stake, and the honor of the nation concerned ! 
But more than all this a thousand times, the immortal interest 
ef thousands who were engaged in the contest. And here I 
know not that I felt any partiality for Americans more than 


for Englishmen: all of one creation — alike the subjects of re- 
deeming blood, all accountable to the King of kings, and de- 
serving the same condemnation ! With these reflections we 
immediately called the household and fell upon our knees in 
prayer, and the Lord poured on us the spirit of supplication. 
We wept aloud and prayed most fervently to the Ruler of na- 
tions and the Savior of men that he would pardon our national 
crimes, save men from death, protect the harbor from conquest, 
and have mercy on the precious souls of those who were con- 
stantly falling in battle. You may suppose that the constant 
sound of the instruments of death gave weight to our concern, 
and ardency to our petitions with all that our grace could 

" We then mounted our horses and set out for the scene of ac- 
tion, that if possible we might afford some assistance as minis- 
ters, and administer consolation to the wounded and dying. 
When we reached the harbor the British had retreated to their 
shipping, leaving part of their dead and wounded on the field 
of battle. These, with our own men, were brought in from the 
field, the dead were stretched side by side in rows, and the 
wounded on beds and straw in as comfortable a condition as 
could be expected. We were conducted by a friend to the 
several hospitals, where I saw the distress of about eighty 
wounded. I cannot describe my feelings, to hear the groans 
of the wounded and dying, some pierced through the body, 
others through the head, some bruised by the falling of the 
timbers of trees, others with broken bones, and one whose face 
was shot away (save his under jaw) by a grape shot. He was 

yet breathing strong. This was a shocking view Some 

were in such pain they could not be conversed with, others be 
ing fatigued and broken of their rest were asleep. But we 
conversed with many who manifested seriousness, whom we 
pointed to the suffering bleeding Savior, and exhorted them to 
look to him for mercy. Here I saw how useful a faithful and 
feeling chaplain might be. The best opportunity would pre- 
sent in alleviating the miseries of men in some degree, by pro- 
curing such things as the distressed most needed, and by com- 
forting them in their afflictions. And here he might be heard, 
though at other times his counsel would be slighted. 

u In conversation with the British wounded I found a serious 
young man who had been a hearer of the Methodists in Ireland, 


Quebec, and Upper Canada ; his name was Hornbrook, and 
he belonged to the 100th regiment. Also a brother, Charles 
Pratt, one of our own militia, badiy wounded. Both were very 
glad to see and talk with their preachers. 

" Having been without bread a long time many of the militia 
were very hungry. Some wanted coffee, some milk, some 
bread. We gave them the biscuits we carried down, but 
co'ild procure no milk for them. I really desired to stay with 
them, my heart thirsted to do them good. One young man 
who was wounded told me his brother was killed in battle. His 
parents, I think, live east of Connecticut River. . . . We were 
then conducted to the remains of Col. Mills, of the Albany 
volunteers. He and the British General Gray were laid out 
together, both brave, " by mutual wounds expired," but now 
.slept peaceably together. Among the wounded I heard no 
swearing. In this battle several of our brethren suffered. 
Brother Graves, an ensign in the militia, living near the harbor, 
and several others, were taken prisoners. He has since writ- 
ten from Montreal to his family. Brother Fay, of Ellisburgh, 
was wounded in the first part of the action, and in attempting 
to make his way through the woods toward home, fell in with 
a body of Indians who had landed farther up, who shot him 
several times, scalped and mangled him in a horrible manner. 
His body was found some time after and interred by his father 
near the place. It seems the Indians were somehow interrupt- 
ed, and in their hasty flight left the scalp and knife, which 
were found near the body. Brother F.'s money was found 
near him on a root ; his scalp is in the possession of the widow. 

" On leaving the harbor we called on some brethren, who, 
with their neighbors, carried down several gallons of milk, and 
distributed among the wounded. We also represented their 
case to the congregation at the close of the camp meeting, 
when twenty-five dollars were contributed and put into proper 
hands, who purchased coffee, sugar, and other delicacies which 
they most needed, and from time to time distributed among 
them. For this they were very thankful, and both English and 
American blessed me with many good wishes when I again 
visited the hospital four weeks ago. I found Hornbrook 
had recovered so far as to be able to hobble about. Of about 
seventy-five of our wounded twenty-o'ne died ; of twenty-four 
British wounded seven had died. They carried most of their 
Vol. II.— 20. 


wounded off the field to their boats in time of battle. Brother 

Pratt has also recovered The body of Col. Mills was 

removed to Watertown, where his funeral was attended by a 
numerous assembly of soldiers and citizens, where a sermon 
was preached on Prov. xxii, 1, when several traits in the charac- 
ter of the amiable colonel were proposed for imitation. The 
assembly were moved and wept. 

" Our preachers on the lines have frequent opportunities of 
preaching to the soldiers, who are very fond of hearing. We 
find it necessary to avoid all political discussions, both in public 
and private." 

The following extract from the same writer will show the 
deep interest he and others of a like spirit felt for those who 
were suffering the consequences of this bloody contest. 

" Albany, Oct. 26, 1813. 

" This moment I have returned from a visit to the barracks, 
in Greenbush, in company with brother Merwin. 

" Having been kindly indulged by Col. Larned, commandant 
to the prisoners, we most joyfully embraced the privilege of 
proclaiming to them the sweet liberty of the gospel. They 
were called together by their officers, and a more attentive 
congregation I never expect to address again. As soon as we 
began to sing there was weeping ; and immediately on our 
kneeling to prayer they all knelt down, and here and there we 
heard the voice of Amen to our petition for their salvation. I 
could not solve this till after the service. To my great sur- 
prise and mingled grief and joy, several brethren and acquaint- 
ances from Canada came and made themselves known to us ; 
they were militia in arms, and were taken near Fort George ; 
among these were Messrs. George Lawrence, leader at Four 
Mile Creek, William Clinton, from the head of the lake, and 
Russel Hawley, brother of David Hawley of Bay of Quintie ; 
their captivity was an affliction which made friends more 

" By them I was informed, that in consequence of the trou- 
bles there had been no preaching in that part for some time : 
that Mr. Ryan and others were traveling and doing all they 
could for God and souls : that none of our brethren in that part 
had been killed. 

" Brother Merwin has permission to preach to them every 


week, and he has appointed to do so every Tuesday afternoon, 
if the weather will permit. They are a mixed multitude of 
English, French, &c, amounting to about five hundred and 
fifty-nine, but were very anxious for meetings. Brother Mer- 
win is to send them Bibles from the society in this place, and 
other books. O, pray for them !" 

Much individual suffering was experienced in various places, 
and many instances of Christian sympathy were exhibited by 
ministers as well as private Christians, highly creditable to 
themselves and recommendatory of that religion which breathes 
good-will to man. 

On the return of peace, the first national ship which anchor- 
ed in the port of New- York, under the command of Commodore 
Chauncey, by his permission, was visited by one of our 
preachers, who delivered a sermon to the officers and men, 
wTiich was listened to with serious attention, and for some time 
thereafter regular preaching was kept up at the navy-yard in 
Brooklyn, and at the barracks on Governor's Island and the 
other military posts in the bay of New- York. These efforts 
have been crowned with success, many of the sailors and sol- 
diers having given evidence of a thorough reformation of heart 
and life. 





From 1792 to 1812. 


Methodism won its way, p. 3 ; satisfaction in the doings of the confer- 
ence of 1792, p. 3; conferences and circuits, p. 4; efforts to establish 
district schools, p. 4 ; labors of Bishop Asbury, p. 5 ; Methodism in New 
England, p. 6 ; preachers withdrawn, dead, and located, p. 9 ; numbers, 
conferences, and circuits, p. 10; Methodism in the west, p. 11 ; affliction 
and labors of Bishop Asbury, p. 12 ; others labor and suffer with him, p. 15 ; 
Methodism in Vermont and Maine, p. 16; in New-Hampshire, p. 17; 
days of fasting and thanksgiving, p. 17 ; locations and deaths of preachers, 
p. 18 ; number of members and conferences, p. 19 ; poisonous effects of in- 
fidelity, p. 21 ; a fast proclaimed, p. 22 ; thanksgiving, p. 23 ; numbers, 
p. 24 ; conferences attended by Bishop Asbury, p. 25 ; his labors and suffer- 
ings, p. 26 ; meets the classes in New- York, p. 27 ; Benjamin Abbott, p. 27 ; 
his labors and their effects, p. 28 ; his last public service, p. 35 ; his death, 
p. 37 ; his character, p. 38 ; death of other preachers, p. 39 ; of Judge 
White, p. 42 ; numbers, p. 43. 


Second General Conference, p. 43 ; locations deprecated, p. 44 ; char- 
tered fund, p. 45 ; church property, p. 51 ; manner in, and purposes for 
which it is held, p. 52 ; local preachers, rules for the government of, p. 53 ; 
rule respecting the use of ardent spirits, p. 54 ; Dr. Coke offers his services 
to the conference, which were accepted, p. 56 ; he returns to Europe, p 
56 ; an incident of the voyage, p. 57 ; conference adjourns, p. 57. 


Conferences and circuits, p. 57 ; illness of Bishop Asbury, p. 58 ; his la- 
bors and sufferings, p. 59 ; further sufferings at Tuckehoe, N. Y., p. 60 ; 
not able to attend conference, but appoints Jesse Lee in his place, p. 61 ; 
death of preachers, and number in the church, p. 62 ; people of color spe- 
cial object of attention, p. 63 ; rebuilding of the Light-street church, p. 65 ; 
extension of the work in Western New- York, p. 66 ; numbers, p. 67 ; 
death and character of John Dickins, p. 67 ; deaths and locations, p. 71 ; 
revival in Upper Canada, p. 72 ; Calvin Wooster, p. 73 ; good results of 
his labors, p. 73 ; others enter into the work, p. 74 ; opposition to it, p. 75 ; 
Methodism in Ohio, p. 77 ; in^Jeorgia and Mississippi, p. 81 ; locations 
and deaths — death and character of H. C. Wooster, p. 83 ; numbers, p. 85. 


Third General Conference. The oldest journal commences here, p. 86 ; 
debility of Bishop Asbury, p. 86 ; conference requests a continuance of his 



efforts lo obtain a better, p. 322 ; church property, p. 323 ; provision for 
worn-out preachers, widows, and orphans, and for missionary purposes, 
p. 324 ; address of the G. C. to the members of the church, p. 325, presiding 
elder question, p. 330 ; history of, p. 331 ; arguments for and against the 
measure, p. 338 ; end of the controversy, p. 343 ; stationing power, p. 344; 
its use, p. 345. 


War declared, p. 347 ; consequences of this, p. 348 ; growing import- 
ance of the west, p. 349 ; commission from the A. B. C. F. M. sent there, 
p. 349 ; report, p. 350 ; Bishop Asbury declines in health, p. 351 ; remarks 
on the war, and effects of intoxicating liquors, p. 352 ; slate of the work, 
p. 353 ; numbers, p. 354 ; distressing times on the frontiers, p. 354 ; seces- 
sion of Pliny Brett, p. 354 ; general state of things, p. 355 ; labors of Bish- 
op Asbury, p. 356 ; makes his will, p. 357 ; mutual iiffection and influence 
of the bishops, p. 358 ; numbers, p. 358 ; cause of the increase, p. 359 ; the 
war rages, p. 360 ; its effects on religion, p. 360 ; dangerous illness, and 
recovery of Bishop Asbury, p. 361 ; resumes his travels, p. 363 ; his de- 
bilitated appearance, p. 364 ; death and character of Mr. Otterbine, and 
others connected with him, p. 365 ; death of Dr. Coke, p. 376; locations, 
p. 380 ; deaths and numbers, p. 381 ; Bishop M'Kendree, p. 381 ; conversa- 
tion of Bishop Asbury with him, p. 382 ; the war draws near its termination, 
p. 383 ; locations, deaths, and numbers, p. 384 ; peace and its consequences, 
p. 385 ; Bishops Asbury and M'Kendree, p. 386 ; locations — death of Lear- 
ner Blackman, p. 386 ; of Richmond Nolley, p. 388 ; of other preachers, 
p. 389 ; decline of Bishop Asbury, p. 391 ; last entry in his journals, and 
his last sermon, p. 392 ; his death and burial, p. 394 ; inscription on his 
tombstone, p. 385 ; his life never written, p. 396 ; his character, p. 397 ; 
concluding remarks, p. 418. 



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